Blue Remembered Hills (M&L CC, Child) (Complete)

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WR
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Blue Remembered Hills (M&L CC, Child) (Complete)

Post by WR » Wed Feb 26, 2003 3:19 pm

Winner - Round 5

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Best Past Lives Storyline



Parts 1 – 30 are archived here.


Previously, on Roswell…

After getting married, Max, Liz and their friends took summer jobs at a campsite in Idaho, where Max heals a young girl shot during a robbery, sending them on the run again.

In Nebraska, they helped an old woman bring in her harvest and saved her farm, but again drew attention to themselves through their actions.

On their way to check the kids Max healed in the Phoenix hospital, the gang found themselves caught up in an armed siege in New Mexico where they manage to resolve the situation.

After leaving their parents, the gang headed for Phoenix, but in the mountains of Colorado, the FBI forced them to abandon their car. Max was involved in an accident, and went missing. The gang, lead by Liz, found him again, but not before Sean managed to capture Liz. In spite of his amnesia, Max could not abandon Liz and rescued her. She turned around and rescued him right back.

A short break, compliments of Kal Langly means intimate reunions for some, and revelations for others. Kyle finally meets a girl, and Max and Liz discover disturbing secrets surrounding Tess’s pregnancy.

Back together in Glenwood Springs, the gang find work, preparing for a long stay to build up their reserves. Jesse announces his decision to remain with Isabel, while Kyle decides that it’s time to leave the group, and stay with Connie. They discover a frost bitten man in a coma, and in helping him, Max rescues his wife, and delivers their twins. It’s time to leave, and that means some goodbyes.
Last edited by WR on Wed Mar 17, 2004 4:06 pm, edited 66 times in total.

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WR
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Post by WR » Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:37 pm

Part 31

"Phoenix, Arizona," Jesse called over his shoulder to anyone who was listening. "Population, five million, one hundred and thirty thousand, six hundred and thirty two."
"Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks," Kyle added as he stared at the buildings of the major city.
"Huh?" Connie woke up from her light doze at Kyle's side. She had surprised him time and time again with her ability to be alert the moment she woke up, something he had seen only Max, Michael and Isabel able to do. She had told him that it was something she had learned during basic training.
"We're in Phoenix," he told her.
"Head for the hospital," Max called from his seat where he too had just woken up. Wrapped in his arms, Liz still slept. "We'll find a motel as close as we can."
"It'll probably be pricey," Jesse pointed out.
"It's only for one night," Max shrugged. "Hopefully."

* * *

Although they had rented four cheap rooms, they congregated into just one of them, while they either wound down from their stint at driving, or woke themselves up from the nap they had been taking in the car.
"Okay, we're here," Michael sat on the single chair in front of a small desk. "Let's get this over with as quickly as possible. I don't want to hang around Phoenix any longer than we have to."
"Is there somewhere you think we should go?" Max asked, looking long and hard at Michael.
"I just think it's a mistake to be somewhere we can't see them coming."
"Who? The FBI?"
"No. Not the FBI. The others. I mean... whoever."
"Are you okay, Michael?"
"Fine. Fine. Look, lets do what we gotta do so we can split."
"How about if you and I go up to the hospital right now and take a look? We can work out what we need to do and come back to make the arrangements."
"Sounds like a good idea, Max," Liz agreed.
Michael nodded.

"Uh, Liz?" Kyle stepped to the door and opened it. "Could I, uh... have a word?"
"Sure, Kyle," Liz nodded and rose from Max's side to step outside with him.
A few moments later, they heard a door close a short distance away.
Connie crossed to the window and glanced through the curtains. She was frowning, and chewed one of her fingernails.
"Are you okay with this?" she asked Max. "Liz and Kyle being alone like that?"
Maria and Isabel exchanged an amused glance.
"Sure," Max nodded. "There's nothing to worry about."
"I mean, didn't they used to date?"
"Yeah," Max nodded. "They're just talking, Connie."
"It's okay, Connie," Maria chuckled. "Trust me. If there's one girl in the whole Universe that Kyle knows not to mess with, it's Liz. But your concern is noted."
Connie started to blush, making Maria smile.

* * *

"It's eating me up inside, Liz," Kyle admitted when they closed the door to Liz and Max's room. "That she doesn't know, I mean. It's not fair that you haven't told her. How can I build a relationship with her when there's this huge lie between us."
"I agree, Kyle," Liz smiled.
"That's good," Kyle looked a little surprised. "So I can count on your help? You'll ask Max if we can tell her?"
"Not 'we', Kyle. You. You can tell her."
"Okay, okay," Kyle ran his hands through his hair. "Can you ask Max if I can tell her?"
"You could ask him yourself, Kyle."
"I know," he sighed. "It's just, if he said... I mean... He would never say no to you."
"He might not say no to you," Liz grinned. "Are you really still afraid of him?"
"No. It's not that. I'm just afraid that he'll say no."
"Relax, Kyle. We already talked and agreed. You can tell her."
"You did? I can?" Kyle frowned. "So why didn't you tell me already?"
"We wanted to make sure you wanted her to know," Liz shrugged. "How 'bout I go back now and ask Connie to come and speak to you?"
"What?" Kyle looked anxious. "I have to do this alone? I sorta thought..."
"You're the one who wants to tell her, Kyle," Liz grinned. "So you tell her."

* * *

"So, what's up?" Connie looked more than a little nervous when she sat down on the chair that Kyle had pulled out for her.
"Remember the other night? When we talked about that secret, and how it wasn't mine to tell?"
"Yeah," Connie nodded.
"Well," Kyle took a deep breath. "'Cause you're with us now, it's only fair that you know what you're letting yourself in for, okay?"
"Okay."
"I'm going to tell you something, and no matter what you might think, promise that you won't think it's a joke. Okay? This is serious."
"Kyle," Connie frowned. "You're starting to scare me."
"How did you tell Liz, Max?" Kyle whispered under his breath. "Okay. First of all, you need to know, Maria, Liz, Jesse and I all have natural parents, okay?"
"Yeah. Okay, so?"
"Michael, Isabel and Max were adopted."
"I'm not seeing anything wrong, here."
"They were found, wandering in the desert. Michael was found by himself and ended up in the foster system. Isabel and Max were adopted by the people who found them."
"So their real parents, like, dumped them."
"Well, yes and no. You see, Connie... the reason why Michael and Max were able to rescue your father that time, why Max was able to change the van from silver to white, you see..." Kyle took another deep breath and closed his eyes. "They're not from around here."
"What? They were born in a different state? Different country? So?"
"Try a different planet."
Connie blinked.
"This is a joke, right?"
"No," Kyle sighed. "They're aliens. Well, a cross, actually. Part alien, part human." He looked at Connie who was taking deep breaths. "I kinda know what you're feeling right now."
"Do you?" she snapped, her eyes blazing.
"Yes," Kyle nodded. "Confused. Scared. Angry."
"Damn straight!"
"But they're not here to take over or anything. Okay? They're as scared as you are. The FBI have been hunting them, and Max has already been... been..."
"Been what?"
"Been captured and experimented on by a member of our government," Kyle finished. "The thing is, if you're coming with us, you have to know. You see, they can do things."
"What kind of things?"
"Well, change the color of vans for a start. Heal people, for another."
"Heal? What do you mean?"
Kyle sat on the edge of the bed, across from Connie.
"This all started a few years ago when Liz got shot when an argument in the diner she was working got out of hand. It got her in the stomach. She would have died, but Max was there, and because he was secretly in love with her, he healed her. It's what alerted the authorities to his existence. Later on, he healed me when I got shot because I butted in when I didn't know what was going on. He healed my dad too, and another girl who was shot over in Idaho a few months ago."
"That was you?"
"Yeah. And he also cured a bunch of kids with cancer in the hospital here in Phoenix."
"So why are you looking for them?" Anger was still burning in her eyes.
"Because when he heals people, strange things happen. Liz developed these strange symptoms that couldn't be explained medically. We were terrified she was going to die. Then she developed these powers of her own. We need to get to the kids to let their parents know what might happen and how to handle it."
Connie stood up and stared down at Kyle.
"Good one," she nodded, though her anger did not appear to have abated. "So are you going to tell me what the real deal is? I mean, aliens? Come on, Kyle. What kind of stupid moron do you take me for?"
"It's the truth, Connie," Kyle looked at her, his eyes pleading. "I swear."
"Yeah, right," she spat. She opened the door and ran through it, slamming it shut behind her.
"That went well," Kyle groaned.

* * *

"Are you okay?" Liz asked when she found Connie sitting on the swings at a nearby park.
"No," Connie mumbled. She looked... stunned. "Did Kyle send you?"
"Yeah," Liz sat on the swing next to her, twisting her body to face Connie. "But only 'cause he's afraid he's messed everything up. And he's worried about you."
"So," Connie spoke after a lengthy pause. She still hadn't looked at Liz. "Aliens, huh?"
"I'm sorry, Connie," Liz shrugged. "What do you want me to say?"
"That it's not true. That this is some sort of practical joke."
"I can't do that."
"You know, my dad told me he was hit by a UFO, but I sorta figured he meant it literally, that it really was just an unidentified flying object."
"It was a real UFO, Connie. From a planet called Antar in the Whirlwind galaxy."
Connie raised her head suddenly, closed her eyes, and rolled her head around her shoulder.
"Michael said something about how my dad was hit by UFO. I just thought it was Roswell fever. You know? Alien conspiracies around every corner. Was it you guys who blew up the base?"
"No," Liz shook her head. "It was the person who came in the ship."
"Person?"
"Yeah. She was like... a sort of enemy. It's a long story."
"And you're okay with this? I mean, Liz. You're fucking an alien!"

"No!" Liz snapped. "I make love with Max, my husband."
"How can you let him use you like that? He's not even human."
"Oh, and the people who tried to kill your dad back in May are? The people who are hunting us? The people who conducted experiments on Max? Are they human, Connie? Let me tell you right now. Max, Michael and Isabel are more human than a lot of other people I know. Those three in there have saved more lives than you can ever know. And you know what? They risked their own lives doing it."
"But they're..."
"You'll understand once you get to know them a little better, Connie. If it helps, consider that I'm part alien too."
"But they can do these... things."
"Yeah," Liz smiled. "They have certain abilities."
"But how can you sleep with him?"
"Because I love him," Liz poured every ounce of sincerity in that simple statement. "But there are some benefits as well."
"Such as?"
"Uhm, you know, Connie? That's kind of personal."
"Oh. Oh! Okay," Connie started to blush.
"They won't hurt you. They wouldn't hurt anyone."
"I think I already knew that," Connie hung her head in shame.
"So you'll stay? I mean, I don't really know how you feel about him, but I do know that Kyle thinks the world of you."
"I like him, too," Connie nodded. "He can seem a little too eager sometimes, but under the circumstances, it could be worse. He could be a Harry Slabinski."
"Harry Slabinski?" Liz looked confused.
"Just someone you would never want to date. Trust me."
"Got it."
"So... these kids. What can I do to help?"
"Thank you," Liz reached across and hugged Connie, welcoming her to the group. "But this is something that only the four of us can do. You guys get the night off."
"Maybe you could persuade Kyle to ask me out on a date or something."
"I don't think it'll take too much persuasion," Liz winked.

* * *

"Camera up there," Michael pointed with his eyes.
"Got it," Max nodded. He leant against the wall, placing his hands flat against the surface. "The cable runs down to the basement, same as all the ones indoors."
"I guess the security console is down there, then. I couldn't see anything on the ground or first floors."
"Do you think you could work out how they're all controlled if we got in there?"
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "It's not exactly rocket science."
"We could try to gain access now, if you want?"
"That's normally my job," Michael smirked. "Taking unnecessary risks."
"I don't think that, Michael. That you take unnecessary risks. Sometimes, you tend to get a little... enthusiastic, but I know you believe that what you do is for the best. Did that sound right?"
"I'll let you know when I translate it."
"Are you all right, Michael?" Max turned to face him. "I mean, just lately, you've been acting a little... off."
Michael stared at Max and turned away toward a bench that was amongst the gardens that ran along the side of the driveway. He sat down.
"Do you remember when things were getting real bad for you, you know, when Alex died? When you and Tess... or maybe not."
"Yeah," Max nodded, sitting next to Michael.
"I think I know what you were going through now."
"Are you and Maria okay?"
"Yeah," Michael sighed. "It's just... Max, I've been having these dreams. I can't remember them, but when I wake up, I feel more... alien. I feel a little more like I did that time I had the seal and went loco."
"Do you think you might start to get... violent again?"
"No," Michael shook his head. "I'm just getting... Believe it or not, I'm getting very defensive. Toward you."
"Me?"
"Yeah. But that's not exactly it, either. It's like, unless we discuss things that revolve around you as the King, and the Royal Four, I feel like it's a waste of time. Max, I have no interest in what you and Liz found in Puerto Rico, but there are times when part of me wants to bang your heads together for not bringing them to me. Part of me thinks they're important, and part of me says to stay the hell away from them."
"When did the dreams start?"
"While we were looking for you. You know, in the mountains."
"Do you think there was some kind of transference? That maybe something of mine still went to you?"
"I don't know," Michael shrugged. "Probably not. Sometimes, it feels... external. Max. Please don't say anything to others, but when I said the Royal Four... Max, I was referring to Tess. Not Liz."
"But Tess is..."
"We don't know that, Max. Did you ever see the body?"

* * *

In the early-evening darkness that descended over the hospital, two young nurses, one tall and blonde, the other shorter and dark, walked up the long driveway toward the main entrance. Unseen by either, though both were fully aware, two masculine shapes clad in black flitted from shrub to bush, making their way toward the same building. While the nurses entered the hospital, the two dark shapes made their way to a basement window.
"Do you want to do it?" Michael asked.
"It's okay," Max looked around making sure no one was around. "You do it."
Michael placed his hand alongside the window frame and moved it in a slow path along the edge. "Got it," he nodded. His hand glowed white and the window swung open.
Max held the window wide for Michael to slide in. When Michael reached up and took the window, Max followed him down inside the darkened room. Max then waved his hand across the latch to hold the window firm until they came back. Together, they crossed to the door. Michael pulled the door open, and peered through the narrow crack. He slipped out into the corridor first, and crept to the corner. He peered around it and waved Max out.
"The console is at the end of this corridor," Michael whispered. "What do we do? Make a run for it, or creep along and hope no one comes?"
Max turned his head this way and that, listening for the sounds of any one nearby.
"Run?" he asked.
"Run," Michael agreed.
Together, they ran toward the white door at the end of the corridor. No one saw them as they reached their destination.
"What do you think?"
"I say we just go in," Michael grinned. "Luck's been with us so far, and I bet the few guards here will be up on the wards."
"Okay," Max nodded. He gripped the doorknob. "On three?"
"Three."
"One, two, three."
The room was empty, except for a curved desk with a series of controls, with monitors above it. While Michael approached the station, Max locked the door. He turned and watched Michael disable all of the hospital's security systems.

* * *

"This way," Isabel led Liz through the corridors of the hospital, as though she had been walking them all her life.
"How do you know?" Liz looked at her friend with a kind of awe.
"It just feels right."
"I wish I could do things like that."
"Don't worry, Liz. You're getting stronger. I can feel it. Except for dream walking, you'll probably be able to do everything I can do, soon."
"Thanks, Isabel."
Isabel smiled at Liz. She led her around the corner, and stopped in front of a door, marked 'Administration.'
"There's a supply closet right there; look," Isabel nodded at another door. "I'll stay here and keep watch. You go in and do what you have to do."
"Okay," Liz nodded. "Here goes." She reached to the small microphone that Max had built that afternoon, pinned to her nurse's dress. "We're ready," she spoke into it.
"All systems down, Liz," a voice spoke in the earpiece she was wearing. "You're green to go. Be careful. I love you."
Taking a last look around, Isabel waved her hand across the door handle and opened the door. Liz stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

"There's the cabinet," Liz spoke to Max through the mic. "There's a lot of them, but this one feels right. I'm opening it now. B for Brody. Let's see. Briggs, Brindle, here we are, Brody, Sydney." She pulled the file out, and opened the brown folder. "Max," her face fell. "It's empty."
There was a moment of silence before Max spoke.
"Liz, don't panic. I want you to listen to me very carefully. Open your mind, and place your hand over the front part of the drawer. Run your hand slowly from the front to the back, and think about everything you know about us."
"I don't understand."
"Think things like, alien, healing, unexplained. If you pass over a file containing anything like that, and your mind is open, you'll feel it."
"Okay, Max. I'll try."
Liz ran her hand across the drawer as Max suggested.
"Nothing, Max." Disappointment echoed in her statement.
"Don't worry, Liz. Try again, on the next drawer down.
Under Max's guidance, she repeated the process on every drawer in the room.
"Max? What if they computerized it all?"
"They're not on the computer, Liz. Michael and I already checked, remember?"
"Yeah," she sighed. "Okay, I'm on the S's now."
She pulled open the drawer, and held her hand above the files. As she passed from the front toward the back, her hand suddenly glowed a white color. Her eyes widened and she reached for the file.
"Max, I have something. It's a file called 'Silver Hand.'"
"Sounds like something we should be aware of. What's in it?"
"It's a list of names and addresses. Wait, Syndey's on the list. So is a Thomas Curtis. Bingo."
"Okay. Liz, can you copy it?"
"There's no copier here, Max."
"You can do it yourself."
"How?"
"Same way. Open your mind, and pass your hand over the list. Then, hold your hand over a piece of blank paper, and let everything you picked up go onto the sheet."
"You're kidding."
"Nope. Try it and see."
"Oh, wow!" Liz exclaimed as she folded her copy into a small square and tucked it into her bra.
"Liz!" Isabel hissed from the door. "We have to go. Too many people are taking notice."
"We have to leave now, Max."
"Okay," Max agreed. "Michael says someone's coming here, too. Meet you outside."

* * *

Standing together in the shelter of a large tree, the four teenagers passed their hands in front of themselves, changing their clothing into less conspicuous attire. They each pulled a pair of surgical gloves from their hands and handed them to Max. They vanished in a cloud of powder.
"That reminds me too much of the skins," Michael shuddered.
Everybody nodded.
They look at each other in the gloom.
"Do you remember that night, in that alley, when Liz stopped us from leaving?" Isabel smiled.
"So much has happened since then," Max nodded. "It started out with the three of us. Then I finally let Liz in. It kinda... snowballed."
"Did you ever stop and think where we might be if we just took off that night of the Crash Festival?" Michael looked around. "You know, if you hadn't let Liz persuade you to stay? Our life would have been a lot like this, but less..."
"Rewarding?" Liz finished.
"I know one thing," Max smiled. "I know which path I'd rather be on."
"You do, huh?" Isabel smirked at the smile Max and Liz exchanged.
"Come on," Max wrapped his arm around Liz. "The night is young and Kyle is out on a date with Connie. Let's grab Maria and Jesse and go out somewhere. Let's have some fun."
"Who are you," Michael laughed. "And what have you done with Max?"
"Count me out, guys," Isabel smiled. "I had the foresight to think of this already. Jesse's waiting for me in a restaurant just down the road. We're meeting up with Kyle and Connie. I'll see you guys later. Don't wait up."

* * *

"And that pretty much brings us up to date, right?" Kyle looked at Isabel for her confirmation that he had told Connie everything about their adventures.
"So you guys have been pretty busy," Connie shook her head. "So what changed your mind, Jesse? I mean, why did you decide to stay with them this time?"
"I didn't give Isabel a chance to say no again," he smiled at his wife, reaching to take her hand. "But let me tell you, Connie. It's not going to be easy, living with them. Anyway, you have it the easiest."
"How's that?" Kyle asked.
"Because Connie had the good sense to fall for one of the..." he looked around and leaned forwards. "Humans."
"Yeah," Isabel smirked. "But that's only temporary."
"How do you mean?" Connie looked concerned.
"Liz is human too, but she's developing alien powers of her own from when Max healed her," Kyle told her. "So because he healed me, it's only a matter of time before it affects me."
"They're human powers, Kyle. Not alien."
"Call 'em what you want," Kyle shrugged. "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."
"What do you mean," Connie asked. "How can they be human powers?"
"We've been genetically engineered," Isabel explained. "We have human DNA, but our essence, our soul, if you like, is alien. It's who we used to be on our home planet, until we were killed. Our brains were advanced a few hundred years to take advantage of the power it holds. Everything we can do, it's human."
"No," Jesse shook his head. "No, that can't be right."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because you each have your own powers that are unique to you. You know, Max can heal... you can dream walk... Liz gets those premonitions. If they were human powers, surely you could all do them. Plus, when Michael got the seal when Max died..."
"Max died?" Connie's mouth fell open.
"Oh, yeah," Kyle groaned. "Long story. Liz saved him, kinda."
"Anyway, Michael got Max's unique abilities."
"That's right," Kyle nodded. "You know, I just thought about it. What's Michael's unique ability?"
"That blaster thing of his, I guess," Isabel shrugged.
"No, you can all do that. Even Liz can do that."
"I never thought of that," Isabel admitted.
"What's your other one?" Jesse looked at Isabel.
"Other one what?" Isabel was starting to feel a bit shell-shocked now. She wished Max were here to help field these questions.
"Power, ability, whatever."
"How do you mean?"
"Max can heal and he has that shield of his. Liz gets those premonitions and she can project an image of herself. You only seem to be able to dream walk. Tess could mind warp and erase memories."
"I think that was part of the same power. She could alter how you perceived things."
"Okay. So we don't really know what Michael can do. You and Tess only have one ability. Max and Liz each have two."
"Sounds about right."
"Maybe Max has two 'cause he's the king," Kyle surmised. "Liz has two 'cause Max healed her. So it's safe to bet I'll probably get two. Cool. I won't have to feel inferior to Evans anymore."
"No offense, Kyle," Isabel laughed. "Somehow, I think you'll always feel like that."
"Because of Liz?" Connie asked looking a little jealous.
"Not because I want her back or anything," Kyle replied. "Even when we thought Max was dead, I knew I could never be more than her friend. Liz belongs to Max, in life and in death. Just like he belongs to her. They'll never be separated. Besides, there's only one person that I'm interested in, romantically speaking."
"Uh huh. And who might that be? Do I know her?"
"You could say that."
"Oh my god," Isabel laughed. "Are you two flirting?"

* * *

"Why is it that we seem to spend our time in truck stops?" Maria groaned as they sat in a huge booth, eating their lunch. "Have I ever told you how much I hate fried food?"
They were on their way to Tucson, which was the nearest address on the list that Liz had taken from the hospital.
"That's not the worst," Isabel nodded at the large gang of young men at the back of the diner.
They were loud, boisterous, and had been giving the waitresses a hard time.
"Army," Connie grunted without looking over at them.
"How can you tell?" Maria asked.
"You just can. I can spot 'grunts' a mile away."
"Well, that blond haired one in the corner hasn't taken his eyes off of Liz since he got here," Maria scowled.
"What's that?" Liz asked, looking up from the sheet of numbers she had been studying with Max.
"Nothing," Maria smirked.
"You guys done?" Max asked.
When everyone had nodded, they all rose from their booth, and after Liz had paid for the meal, and left a good tip, they stepped outside into the Arizona heat.
"We should reach Tucson tonight," Max told them while they all stretched their legs.

The door behind them opened, and the gang stepped out of the way. The large group of men that Connie had identified as army poured out through the door, passing ribald comments as they left. The blond man that Maria had spotted eyeing Liz stopped with a few of his buddies.
"Hey, babe," he smiled at Liz. He placed his arm on her shoulder. "Why don't you leave these boys behind and come see what life is like with a real man?"
Liz reached up and grabbed his arm, and stared open mouthed into the man's eyes.
"Look at that," one of the soldiers called. "She's got it bad for you, Dixon."
"Dumbstruck," another added.
"Mount up," someone called from near a large bus.
"Come see me anytime, babe," the blonde man smirked. "I'll show you things you've never dreamed of."
"Did you see the look on her face?" the stunned group of friends heard one of the departing men comment.
Liz shook herself from her daze, and glanced once at Max before running after the men.
"Look! Here she comes again. She can't get enough of you, man."
Liz grabbed the man's arm and looked up at him. To the surprise of her friends, and the catcalls of the soldiers, Liz reached up and kissed the blond haired man on his lips.

* * *

:shock: :twisted:

User avatar
WR
Addicted Roswellian
Posts: 388
Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2001 10:22 am
Location: Somewhere over England

Post by WR » Fri Mar 07, 2003 3:46 pm

Part 32

"Where are you going?" Liz gasped when she released the man from her kiss, pulling herself free from his attempt to pull her tighter to him.
From the opened windows of the bus, comments and encouragement were being called out by his friends.
"You can find me at the Ash Springs National Guard barracks, on the other side of 'Vegas, on Highway 93, darlin'," the man called Dixon was grinning from ear to ear. "You ever been to Vegas? I'll show y'all the best time you ever had."
"Leave your lady friend alone, Dixon," an older man with sergeant's stripes barked. "Mount up!"
As Dixon climbed up onto the bus, his comrades congratulated him with high fives and claps on the back. Liz backed away slowly and then turned to face her friends. In contrast to the soldiers, her friends looked less than pleased. Isabel was fuming, while Kyle and Jesse looked on in embarrassment. Maria's mouth was hanging open and she struggled to speak. Even Kyle could scarcely look at her. Connie looked shocked. Michael stormed forward, but was pulled back by Max. Max, too, looked stunned, and definitely had a green tint to him.
"What did you see, Liz?" he asked, at last. His voice was quiet, and had a discernable shake to it.
Looking pale and frightened, Liz gave him a weak smile, relieved that he had understood her actions, even though it was obvious that they had hurt him.
"I... he... they..." she stammered as the bus pulled out amid the calls and whistles ringing from the windows.
She reached for Max and pulled him into a serious clinch. She kissed him, with as much love and passion as she could muster, not only to let him know how she felt about him, but to make sure he saw. Max was assailed at once by the imagery. He sorted through the ones that told him she loved him and only him and finally arrived at the reason for Liz kissing the man.
"No," Max gasped, staring at Liz in horror as he broke from the kiss. "No, no, no, no, no! It's coming!"
"Max," Michael stepped beside him, still blazing with anger. "What's coming?"
"The end of the world."

* * *

"I don't understand," Chyn shrugged from the passenger seat of the car in which they followed the blue Chevy Suburban. "Why have we stopped the signal to Rath? I thought the plan was to increase it?"
"I remember reading once, that the human body is capable of building up a resistance to something it is exposed to over a long period of time," Bektor replied. "I don't want Rath building up immunity to the signal. I want him to react as soon as I issue the order."
"Okay," Chyn nodded. "By the way, Commander Kell has still been unable to locate Kalyn. He suggests that either she has been captured by a third agency, or that the residue of the Granolith being stored nearby for so long is blocking his locator. In any case, we are to consider her lost."
"We need Rath more than ever, then," Bektor nodded. "We will give him a low signal a few hours before we need him, and then switch it to maximum.
"Agreed," Chyn turned to look out of the window. "It's a shame about Kalyn, though. Of all of us, she was the one most looking forward to this... meeting."

* * *

"Okay," Michael demanded from his position in the Suburban, just behind Jesse who was driving. He had turned in his seat to face Max and Liz who were sitting in the back, both still looking pale. "Either you tell us what the hell is going on, or... or... Look. What the hell is going on? Liz kisses some dumb grunt and you, what? Tell me."
Max and Liz exchanged glances, and Max nodded.
"When he touched me," Liz started, "you know, when they came out from the diner, just behind us, I saw things. I saw that they were involved in some kind of fight."
"So?" Michael narrowed his eyes. "They're soldiers. It happens."
"Yeah, but as near as I could tell, they were fighting in this country. It kinda looked like the desert."
"Could have been Afghanistan," Connie interrupted. Her eyes looked a little wild where she was not yet used to the alien abyss.
"No," Liz shook her head. "It really looked like the desert here. The thing is... those guys they were fighting? They weren't using guns. They were just pointing their hands. And Michael? Bullets weren't hurting them."
"Skins?" Michael's face fell. So too did his anger.
"I think so."
"So why did you kiss him?" Isabel was still showing her hostility.
"I touched him a second time, to try to get more information. Like where or when. But nothing happened. I remembered how when Max and I tried to get more information that time the FBI came for us, I was kissing him, so..."
"Oh," Isabel looked a little surprised. "But now that goon thinks you like him."
"Isabel," Liz shook her head. "I could care less what he thinks. It's what you think that's important."
"Well," Isabel looked over at Liz. "What did you see?"
"They all get killed," Liz's face fell. "The skins kill them all, and they set up some kind of... It looked like a weapon. The thing is, I don't think it's the only one. And I got the feeling it was some kind of advance force. The skins were expecting reinforcements. Lots of them."

"We have to tell someone," Connie broke the silence. "I mean, if we're being invaded, then the authorities have to know."
"Who do we tell, Connie? The FBI? The army?" Michael shook his head. "Do you have the president's phone number?"
"What about my friend, Sarah?" Jesse called from the front?"
"Or Granny's son, the senator?" Maria added.
"Think about it," Michael called over the suggestions. "Hi. We're the kids that ran away from Roswell. We want to report that one of us had a premonition that we're going to be invaded by a bunch of invincible aliens."
"He's right," Max nodded. "No one will believe us. It's up to us to make sure that the soldiers escape their encounter so that they can tell someone. It would be easier to believe them than us."
"But even then, Max," Liz looked up at him. "What can they do? There's only one way to kill a skin, and that's by hitting the plug at the base of their spine."
"The army is trained in unarmed combat," Connie pointed out. "We even get training in the air force. I expect the marines are, too."
"But you have to get close to them, Connie," Liz explained. "And until you get to them, they can fire these energy blasts at you. We know those blasts can kill humans."
"It's up to us, then," Max looked at Michael.
"We need to find out what that weapon Liz saw was anyway," Michael agreed. "Maybe we can use it against them."
"But what about us?" Kyle asked. "I mean, I can't sit back and just let the four of you do the fighting."
"And the dying," Maria closed her eyes and looked away.
"Turn around, Jesse," Max called out. "We're going to Las Vegas."

* * *

"This is hopeless," Liz sighed as she looked up from the binary figures of the signal they had received. "I've tried everything I can think of, and I still can't decipher this thing."
"Maybe it's quite simple," Max shrugged. "Maybe we're so convinced that the signal is part of some complex code, when in reality, that final number is something simple, like a key. I don't know, a checksum or something."
Liz's eyes widened, and she returned to the computer screen. Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she moved the figures into different locations of the spreadsheet.
"Max!" she called out. "You're a genius."
She turned the laptop to face him, where he could see the bitmap representation of a cluster of symbols, reminiscent of the ones they found in River Dog's cave.
"I multiplied the first two by the last one. It was as simple as that all along."
"Now all we need to do is translate the symbols," Max sighed.

"I've been thinking," Michael looked up from the book he was reading. "You know you said you found a book in that ship? With alien symbols and Native American petroglyphs?"
"Yeah," Liz's voice was edged with caution.
"Well, what if someone translated the alien symbols into those petroglyphs? What if they both say the same thing?"
Liz's eyes narrowed as she considered the implication.
"That would make it our very own Rosetta Stone!" Her eyes widened.
"Rosetta Stone?" Maria asked.
"It's how they finally managed to translate the Egyptian hieroglyphics," Liz explained. "Someone found a stone that had hieroglyphics, as well as Ancient Greek and Roman writing. They found out that Greek and the Roman text said the same thing. Because they could translate the others, they were able to translate the Egyptian."
"Great," Maria smirked. "So if you had that book here, and knew how to read the petroglyphs, you could probably translate the alien stuff."
"Uhm," Liz blushed as she produced the alien book she had found in the ship, as well as her grandmother's book, from the bag at her feet. "I kind of have them."
Michael looked up from the book, and gave a sad shake of his head.
"I'm sorry, Michael," Liz felt bad for her friend.
"Forget it," he shrugged.

* * *

"I'm sorry, Max," Isabel sat beside him while it was his turn to drive. Liz was still sitting at the back, trying to translate the symbols.
"Sorry?" Max smiled. "You? What about?"
"For not having enough faith in Liz. For honestly believing she would kiss another guy because she wanted to, not 'cause she had to, for our sakes."
"It was hard seeing her do that," Max nodded.
"Yeah," Isabel looked out through the window. "But you didn't think anything bad."
"I wanted to kill the guy," Max smirked.
"Not Liz?"
Max turned and looked at his sister. He shook his head with a slow grin.
"Not Liz." He looked back to the road. "Isn't this a conversation you should have with her, though and not me?"
"I guess," she nodded. "It's just... something you said back at the hospital. About how it used to be the three of us."
"Is everything okay?"
"Now we have Liz, Jesse, Maria, Kyle and Connie to look after. You're married to Liz, I'm married to Jesse. It seems we don't have the time to really talk anymore. Like we used to."
"I know, Iz," Max nodded. "And I miss it too. But we have these responsibilities now. I guess this is what they call growing up."

* * *

"Max," Michael called while they were stretching their legs during a comfort break on the drive to Las Vegas. He nodded up the road. "Walk with me."
The two young men strolled along the road, leaving their friends at the Suburban.
"Those devices you found in the ship. The ones Liz said were back in the lab with that book."
"I'm sorry about that, Michael. She was worried about letting you know we still had them."
"Because of that time I had your seal?"
"No, actually, it was because of the time we found the map, and you went to find Riverdog, and got sick," Max smirked. "I don't think she's ever forgiven you for spoiling our date."
"Damn, that girl has a long memory," Michael shook his head. "So she thought I'd do something stupid."
"She's noticed, Michael." Max paused to gauge his friend's reaction to what he was about to say and decided to continue anyway. "That you've been acting strange. I mean, that you were. Is everything okay, now? You don't seem as intense."
"Yeah," he nodded. "I don't feel it anymore. Now that I need it the most."
"How do you mean?"
"If we're going up against skins, it would kind of help if I was a little more like Rath, what was it? To the 'nth' degree?"
"I see what you mean," Max agreed.
"Have you and Liz experimented with those devices?"
"No," Max shook his head. "We've been kind of distracted lately. And we didn't want to offend you by admitting we still had them."
"Max, you have to find out what they do. And soon. I mean, if they can help us in anyway... We need all the help we can get."
"You're right. Liz and I will sneak out to the desert tonight and see if we can figure out what they do."
"Max? Do you think Liz would mind if I tag along?"
"I'll ask her, Michael. She can only say no, right?"
"You could always just tell her," Michael narrowed his eyes.
"I couldn't do that, Michael."
"No, I don't suppose you could," Michael grinned.

* * *

"I guess this is far enough," Max urged when they had driven a few miles down a narrow track into the desert.
"We could go into that canyon over there," Michael pointed out.
Max parked the Chevy up close to the canyon, and the two men climbed out. Liz emerged from the driver's seat and joined them. From the passenger seat, Maria, who refused to be left behind climbed out.
"So what's first?" Maria asked.
"I guess we should take a look at them," Liz suggested. She reached into the bag she carried and pulled out the two devices, carefully wrapped in a small hotel towel.
"What do you think, Michael?" Max asked as his friend studied them.
"This one definitely feels like a weapon," Michael agreed. "Like a gun. He aimed it at a boulder, and turned his head to Liz. "May I?"
"Sure," Liz nodded.
Everyone twisted themselves to shield them from whatever might happen. Michael pressed the small button-like object, but nothing happened. He tried it again, and again. Michael frowned at the gun and looked up at Max.
"You try," he offered it to him.
Max repeated Michael's actions, but again, nothing happened.
"I guess it's not something we can use," he shrugged, placing it on a rock next to him. "What about the other one?"
"I have no idea," Michael shook his head. "There's no obvious switches or buttons, just this square window."
"It's almost like one of those small handheld computers," Liz pointed out. "Maybe you have to hold both of them for the gun to work."
Michael picked up the gun and holding both of them, tried to fire at the boulder. Again, nothing happened.
"You know," he narrowed his eyes. He handed the gun to Maria while he concentrated on the small window. "I have this strangest feeling that this is like... some kind of radar."
"You mean some kind of tracking device?" Maria aimed the gun at the boulder and pressed the button.
"Maybe," Michael nodded.
"I'll walk to the end of the canyon and back," Max shrugged. "See what happens."

Max started to walk away, while Michael, Maria and Liz watched the windowed device. Almost immediately, a small white dot appeared on the screen, close to the window's center, moving steadily toward the top of the screen.
"Oh my god," Liz exclaimed. "It is."
"Maria," Michael nudged his girlfriend. "You walk over in that direction."
"Okay."
Michael and Liz watched the screen intently, but other than Max's white dot, nothing appeared.
"You try, Michael," Liz suggested. She held the device while Michael walked away in the opposite direction to Maria. "A white dot, Michael," she called.
"Now you," Michael returned and took it from Liz.
Liz walked the same direction Michael had taken.
"You have one, too," Michael called. "I guess that's because of Max. He looked up to see Max still walking toward the end of the Canyon. "Max!" he called. "Come on back."
Max stopped and turned around.
"What?" His distant voice echoed from the walls of the Canyon.
"Come on back!" Maria bellowed, waving him in with the hand that held the gun. A white bolt of pure energy flew from the gun, scaring Maria who both dropped the device and fell to the ground.
"Max!" Liz shrieked as the bolt flew straight for him.
There was an explosion where Max was standing and when the smoke cleared, he was lying on his back. Liz was already running for him. Michael easily overtook her, and was there only seconds before Liz.
"Oh my god, Max!" Liz was on the verge of hysterics.
"Max?" Michael called, lifting his body up into a sitting position.
"What the hell was that?" Max groaned.
"Max!" Liz threw herself into his body, grabbing him tightly.
"Oh my god! Oh my god!" Maria was inhaling her vial of cedar oil. "Max, I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
"It's a good thing I'm getting quick with my shield," Max rubbed the back of his head.

* * *

"You okay?" Jesse stepped up behind Isabel and wrapped his arms around her as she gazed out of the window of the Motel they had checked into.
"Yeah," Isabel nodded. "Now that we're together, I'm more than okay."
"I meant with being left behind while Max and Michael go off and try to find out what those alien devices are. You guys used to do this sort of thing together, didn't you?"
"That all ended once we started to let people in," Isabel smiled. "When Max let Liz in, it was all Michael and I could do to get him to do anything with us."
"Do you feel they're excluding you?"
"A little," she nodded. "But I understand the need to make sure one of us is with the rest of you. There's no point in us all going to the desert to see if those things do anything. Max and Liz had to go, 'cause they found the things, after all. It made sense for Michael to go, seeing as he's the second in command. Of course Maria would want to tag along. So that means it's me doing babysitting duty."
"Is that how you see it?" Jesse frowned. "Babysitting?"
"No," she turned to face him. "That's not what I meant."
"Don't freeze me out, Isabel," Jesse warned. "I know that the three of you... and Liz, can do things that the rest of us can't, but that doesn't mean that the four of us are helpless." Jesse ran his hand through his hair. "I want to be a part of the team. I can help. When the going gets tough, I want to be there for you, 'with' you."
"But..."
"No buts, Isabel," Jesse hugged her. "I'm not going to stand behind the door anymore. I'm going to be in the front line, with you."
"Jesse," Isabel sighed. "Even Max makes Liz stand to one side."
"But you're not Max, and I'm not Liz."
"You know what?" Isabel laughed, pushing Jesse back towards the bed. "I've noticed that."

* * *

"Why didn't it work earlier?" Max pondered. "We all tried it, even Maria."
"Max," Liz looked up at him. "You were all aiming at rocks. What if there's some kind of sensor and it, like... only lets you shoot at valid targets."
"We'll have to test that," Max nodded.
"No," Liz shook her head. "No way. Max, I know what you're thinking, and no way."
"We need to test this, Liz," Michael stepped behind Liz. "I know you don't like the idea. Neither do I. But if this means we have another weapon to use against the skins, then we need to make sure."
"What if it's a weapon that can only be used against the three of you?" Liz snapped.
"We need to test it," Michael shook his head.
"He's right," Max nodded. "And Liz? We need to see if it will work against you and Maria too."
"Max? Do you realize what you're saying?"
"My shield protected me, Liz. I can put it up before you shoot. If it's a good distance away, then no one will get hurt. Trust me."
In the end, it was simple, and less dangerous than anticipated. They worked out that the gun would only fire at a living target, whether it was a human, or a hybrid alien. They could each one of them use the gun. What they didn't know, what they couldn't test, was if he weapon was lethal.
"I just hope it works against skins," Max frowned.
"Why would they need a gun?" Liz asked. "In my vision, they were using their hands, not a gun."

"I can answer that," Michael announced. "These energy blasts can kill humans," Michael shot the boulder with a blast from his hand. "Like I killed.... Pierce. But they did squat against the skins, except knock them over. I'm betting they do squat against us, too."
"While I tend to agree with you, Michael," Max gave a wry grin. "I'm not prepared to test that theory."
"No," Michael chuckled. "Neither am I. Come on. We've found all we can. Let's go home."
"Keep an eye on the tracker," Max suggested. "See when it detects Isabel. We need to know the range of that thing."
Two miles from their motel, Michael looked up.
"Got her."
"Let's see," Maria looked over his shoulder at the tracking device. "What's that?"
"What?"
"That dot there, look." In the bottom left corner of the screen was a misshapen white dot.
"Max?" Michael handed the tracker to his leader. "What do you think? Should we check it out?"
Max stared at the strange echo. As the white dot representing Isabel moved down the screen toward the center, the other vanished.
"I don't know," he shook his head. "It might be something, but we don't know what else this does. I don't want to chase shadows while we're split up from the others. Let's get back to the rest of them and let them know what we found out. We can decide what to do together."

* * *

"Are you okay with this?" Kyle asked when the others had all left their room, in which they had gathered for the big discussion. "I mean, I could always ask Maria to share with you again, like last night. Or Liz, or Isabel. I'm sure..."
"No," Connie shook her head, looking down at the double bed. "I mean, yeah. I'm okay with this. The others, they... I don't want to put anyone out, you know? Besides, Liz and Isabel... they still kinda... I'll be fine."
"As long as you're comfortable."
"It'll be fine."
Connie rummaged in her suitcase, and pulled out her pajamas. She looked up at Kyle, and moved to the room's adjoining bathroom, closing the door behind her. A few moments later, Kyle heard the light inside the bathroom click off. The door opened a fraction, while she peered out. Almost as though she was in a race, Connie, dressed in her pajamas, scurried across the room, and under the blankets of the bed.

"Are you nervous?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah," Connie admitted. "Does it show? I've never slept with a guy before."
"What, you're a..." Kyle lifted himself up on one elbow.
"No, no," she blushed. "I mean, yeah, I've 'been' with a guy, sure, but I never spent the night with one. You?"
"No," Kyle grinned. "I've never spent the night with a guy either."
"No," Connie laughed. "Have you been with a woman?"
"Yeah," Kyle nodded. "Once or twice."
"Liz?"
"What?" Kyle eyes went wide. "No. Not Liz. No way. She was... It's hard to explain. Looking back, it's like she was saving herself for Max. She said no, so I backed off."
"So you tried. With Liz, I mean."
"Sure I did," he grinned. "Hey, I was a normal hormonally challenged jock with a rep to protect. What can I say?"
"Do you regret it? That you didn't try harder?"
"I thought I did, once. But you have to understand. Max and Liz? They're like... You'll see."

"Kyle?" Connie's voice sounded small in the stillness of their room.
"Yeah?"
"You just need to give me a little time, okay?" She reached across and kissed his cheek.
"'Kay," Kyle smiled. He turned over and switched out the light. "Night, Connie."
"Night." There was a moment's silence. "Kyle?"
"Yeah."
"How do you shut the noise out from their room?"
"You get used to it," Kyle grinned in the dark.

* * *

"Okay," Max looked at his friends standing beside the blue Chevy. They were in a parking lot in downtown Las Vegas. "Don't do anything to attract attention to yourselves. If you must gamble, lose as often as you win." Everyone looked at Michael. "Keep a look out. We still don't know what that dot was last night, so let's not take any chances. You all remember how to spot skins, right?"
"Yes, dad," Maria smirked. "You went through it, like, how many times?"
"Okay," Max glared at Maria. Now remember, Liz saw the soldiers fighting just before dawn. We want to get to that motel near Ash Springs after dark, so we can set up a watch on the barracks before they move out to where ever, and when ever it is they meet the skins. Okay? So be back here by five. One last thing." Max held his finger in the air, looking like a stern father lecturing his children. "Have fun," he broke into a grin.
Max stood by the Suburban and watched his friends heading for the city's main drag. Liz stood at his side, and folded her hand into his.
"That was a good idea, Max," Liz smiled. "Giving everyone this down time. I mean, who knows what tomorrow might bring?"
"Yeah," Max nodded. "They need it. Especially Connie. It's coming a bit too fast for her."
"She'll cope, Max. I have faith in her."
"Just like I have faith in you."
"So, what would you like to do, Max?"
"Anything, as long as it's with you."
"Do you think you could find that Elvis chapel?"
"But we're already married," Max chuckled.
"I know," Liz grinned. "Ever since you told me about that flash you had, I was kinda wondering." She leaned across so that her lips were brushing his ear. "Max, I have this fantasy."
"You want to change into the wedding outfits, and have me carry you to a honeymoon suite?"
"Uh huh," her eyes sparkled. "And I hope you're not too sensitive about using your powers here, because what I have in mind will cost a lot of money."
"Oh?" Max raised his eyebrows. "Just what did you have in mind?"
"Have you ever..." she pulled Max into a full-blooded kiss in which he saw her fantasy play out.
"A Jacuzzi?" he laughed, leaning back from her embrace to look into her eyes.
"Oh, yeah," she gave him a mischievous smile. "And we could..." She whispered into his ear.
"Let's go," Max's eyes widened as he grabbed Liz's hand.

* * *

"You seem to be in a better mood," Maria held Michael's hand as they made their way through the crowds of Las Vegas' main drag.
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "I haven't had those dreams for a while."
"Did you ever tell Max about them."
"Yeah. We talked. We're cool."
"So, did he know what was causing them?"
"He thought that maybe something transferred to me when he had that fall. You know, back in the mountains. Whatever it was, it's stopped. So let's let our hair down, and go back to the casino that threw Max and me in jail."
"Michael," Maria frowned. "You're not going to try to win money at the crap table, are you? They'll probably just accuse you of cheating again, and Max said...."
"No," Michael smirked. "Not me. In fact, I don't plan on betting a slug nickel. But there's going to be an awful lot of people winning in that casino today. The management is in for a bad day. But how about you? What do you want to do?"
Maria's eyes went distant while she chewed the inside of her lip.
"Can you do me a really big favor?"
"Sure." Michael's eyes grew suspicious. "Does this involve a chapel and an Elvis impersonator?"
"Nuh-uh," she smiled. "Can you get me up on the stage again? I'd really like to sing."
"I'll make sure the rest of the gang know," Michael smiled. "It'll be great to have all my friends around me while my girl is on stage again."

* * *

The last of the sun's rays disappeared behind the distant mountains as the Suburban was heading toward Ash Springs along Highway 93. Some of the gang, exhausted from their day of fun, were curled up sleeping. In their usual place when not driving, Max and Liz sat at the back, while Liz poured over the symbols in her grandmother's book, comparing them to the symbols they had found on their 'Rosetta' stone.
"The best I can do," she looked up and whispered to Max and Michael, "Is this. Deliver twenty to agent. When dead, arrange discovery. Signal for revivers will follow for secrecy." She looked up. " There are others words, of course, but I can't find them. Sorry."
"You did great, Liz," Max assured her.
"Yeah," Michael nodded. "Thanks. Maybe we'll understand it more when you translate that other message."
"Yeah," Liz frowned. "It's just... I was hoping it would be helpful to us, you know? This sounds kind of sinister. When what's dead? Who? You guys?"
"Not if we can help it, Liz," Max hugged her.
"There's something else, Max. Look."
"That's the Whirlwind galaxy symbol," Michael observed.
"Yeah," Liz nodded. "That's what we've always been saying."
"Are you suggesting it's not?" Michael looked up.
"I've been seeing that symbol a lot lately, Michael."
"Liz's has been unconsciously drawing it," Max told him. "In the sand, on my chest when we..."
"Spare me the details," Michael raised his hand.
"...talk." Max finished.
"I've been seeing it a lot in our flashes, too."
"So what does the book say it means?"
"Well, the literal translation is 'danger of similarity.'"
"You translate it a different way?" Max looked up at Liz.
"The context that it's used here, suggests that it means beware of repetition."
"Okay," Michael nodded. "How do you think that this relates to us?"
"I think it's a warning. You know, not to repeat your mistakes."
"Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it," Max murmured.
"Yeah," Liz nodded.

* * *

"Okay," Liz sighed in frustration. "I've translated this three times, and it always comes out the same. It makes no sense at all."
"What does it say?" Max looked at the computer screen.
"R dash four eight oh eight N."
"What kind of message is that?" Michael frowned. "What the hell does that mean?"
"Easy," Connie looked up. "That's the designation of the air space over Groom Lake."
"Groom Lake?" Michael asked.
"Yeah. Though you guys may know it better as Area-51."
Michael looked up at Max. Max couldn't help the shudder that wracked his body.
"Where is Area 51, in relation to where we are now, Connie?" Max asked.
"Uhm," Connie looked around the darkened scenery outside. "It's kinda up ahead and to the left a little."
"Wow!" Jesse called from the driver's seat. "Look at that. A meteor shower."
Max and Michael exchanged a look of concern, and leaned to peer through the front window.
"Pull over, Jesse," Max yelled above the chattering friends. "Now!"
Jesse complied and pulled over onto the edge of the road. Max and Michael were already out of the car, and staring at the tails of five separate meteorites streaking toward Earth.
"How far away, do you think?" Max asked.
"Difficult to say," Michael stared at the lines of light. "Ten, fifteen miles, maybe. They seem spread out. Some seem closer than others."
"That would put them over Area 51 itself," Connie joined them.
"Max?" Liz joined her husband. "What if those meteors are the skins? The soldiers are going to be called out to investigate, right? They're going to try to find where these meteor's landed and walk right into a bunch of aliens."
"Why Area 51, though?" Michael mumbled.
"Come on," Max urged. "We have to go and save those soldiers."
"Max, there are five meteors. We can't get to all of them.
"Let's get to the one we can," Max pointed to the nearest streak as it crashed to the ground. There was no explosion. "That one."

* * *

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WR
Addicted Roswellian
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Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2001 10:22 am
Location: Somewhere over England

Post by WR » Sat Mar 15, 2003 2:58 pm

Part 33

"So, what's the plan?" Michael asked as Jesse parked the Chevy in the parking lot of an abandoned gas station.
"I'd like to leave everyone behind and just you and I go up there," Max smirked. "But something tells me that isn't going to happen."
"You want my opinion?"
"Of course, Michael. What do you think we should do?"
"Let's say that the tracker will pick up any..." he looked around the small group and then continued in a hushed tone, " non-human life forms."
"Sound's like a reasonable assumption," Max nodded.
"Okay. Then what we do is stay together, in a loose group." Michael waved his hands in the air, indicating spaces between them. "You, me, Isabel and Liz in the front, with Jesse, Kyle, Maria and Connie behind us. We can use the tracker to find where the skins are, and move as close to them as we can. When we find them, we keep close to them, so that when the soldiers arrive, we can get between them, and protect them with your shield, while we all pull back. We can use our blasters to make sure they don't try to outflank us."
"But our blasters won't hurt them."
"It still knocks 'em over, Max. There's always a chance they'll fall on their self-destruct buttons."
There was a snicker from Maria and Michael threw her a heated gaze.
"We have the gun. We can use that too," Max nodded.
"Give it to Valenti."
"Why Kyle?"
"He can probably shoot better than Jesse. Oh, wait. Connie might be a better shot than Valenti. She was in the military."
"Well, Kyle was Junior State Rifle champion, once."
"Whatever," Michael shrugged.
"That's a good plan, Michael. We'll do that."
"Really?" Michael's eyes widened.
"Yeah," Max smirked. "Don't look so surprised. I'm sure I used to listen to you on Antar."
"Yeah, but Max. Aren't you afraid I'll screw up?"
"No," Max smiled slapping Michael on the back. "Not any more." He turned to his friends still by the van.

"Whoa!" Maria stepped away from Connie when she pulled out a handgun. "What's with the heat?"
"It's a nine millimeter, high power Browning," Connie shrugged as she started to load it from a box of bullets. "Dad got it for me when we first went on the run."
"Um, Connie?" Liz's eyes widened. "Bullets don't hurt them. We told you that, right?"
"Uh huh," Connie nodded. "But you also said that they have that plug thing at the base of their spine. I might get a lucky shot."
"They won't be running away from us," Maria shrugged. "But hey, if it makes you feel better, keep it."
"I'm taking mine, too," Kyle produced his gun, a Magnum forty-one. He too started to slide bullets into the chambers.
"Where did you get that, Kyle?" Liz looked up as Kyle started to load it.
"Dad gave it to me, that time in New Mexico. You know. The siege. He said that one day a situation might arise when we might need a little earthly help. And it's totally untraceable, as I suspect Connie's is."
"Connie," Michael approached the group. "Are you a good shot?" His eyes widened when he saw the two guns. "Shame we lost those others when we had to abandon that four by four."
"Decent," she shrugged. "Why?"
"We were wondering which of you two we should give this to," he held the alien gun.
"Give it to Kyle," she looked at the alien artifact with a wary unease.
"I guess I won't need this then," Kyle smiled as he accepted the gun from Michael. "Jesse? You want to take this?"
Jesse stared at the Magnum. He glanced at Isabel who gave a slow nod of her head. "Okay," he nodded. "Thanks."
"Remember," Max made sure that he had everyone's attention before they were ready to leave. "No heroics. Make sure you let everyone know what's going on around you. Keep your eyes open, and listen to Michael as well as me. All we're going to do is make sure we protect those soldiers and get them out of there. Hopefully, they'll be believed when they tell their superiors about the skins, and they can take steps to prevent the... you know. Now, is everybody ready?"
Everyone nodded.
"Okay," Michael seemed at ease with his military role. "Let's move it out."
"Aren't you supposed to say," Maria lowered her voice to a masculine tone, "Let's rock and roll."
"Maria," Kyle groaned. "That's 'lock and load.'"
The others started to laugh. Michael was about to yell at them when Max laid his hand on his shoulder.
"They're nervous," he told him. "They'll settle down in a minute."
"Okay," Michael nodded his appreciation.
Michael turned and started to walk toward the point they had seen the meteor, or ship fall. Max smiled at his friends, taking in each one of their faces. He hoped that they would all be safe when the sun rose the next morning. He wanted to see them all laughing together again. Max turned to follow Michael, while the others followed them both.

* * *

"Anything, yet?" Liz asked in a hushed tone.
Staring down at the screen of their alien tracker device, Max shook his head.
"Are you okay, Max?"
"Not really, Liz," Max reached out and took her hand. "I'm a little scared."
"Me, too," she squeezed his hand. "But I know you'll do a good job out there. Michael, too."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I've seen you do something like this before. Remember the FBI? Just after they..."
"But there were only a few of them," Max reminded her. "And they were humans."
"But you were inexperienced, Max. You still did really well. Your powers are stronger now, so I know you'll be fine. I just wish we had Tess's mind warping abilities with us."
"They were useful," he nodded. "Frightening, but useful."
"Max, if I..."
"Don't even say it, Liz. Nothing is going to happen to you."
"I won't say it as long as you don't."
"Deal," Max smiled. "Liz? Promise me that you'll stay close to one of us, tonight?"
"I will," she nodded. "But I'd rather stay with you."
"We need to be flexible," Max sighed. "I'll try to make sure it happens that way, but we need to be able to react."
"I can look after myself, if I have to, Max," she reminded him. "You've seen that."
"I know," he smiled. "But you know how I'll always worry about you."
Around him, Max saw that his friends had paired up and were having similar conversations. Of all of them, Connie appeared to be the most nervous. Max wasn't surprised by this. After all, she hadn't signed up for this; it had been pushed onto her. But Liz said that she would be fine, and he trusted Liz's opinions.
"I know," Liz smirked. "And I will always worry about you."
As Max wrapped his arm around her, a series of white dots appeared at the top of the tracking device's screen. Even though Max had been expecting them, his heart still sank. "They're two miles ahead."

* * *

"It's pretty broken country," Michael observed as he stared toward the distance where the dots were accumulated. "We should be able to get close to them unobserved."
"They're staying close together," Max looked again at the screen. "It's like they're setting up a base there."
"Or that weapon Liz saw?" Michael raised his eyebrows.
"What if they have their own tracking device?" Liz's question spoke for everyone.
"Then I guess we're in for a hot welcome," Max scratched behind his ear. "The thing is, they won't know that we have one. We can assume that they will see us coming, but they won't realize that we see them. We'll still stick to the shadows, though. In case they don't have one."
"How many do you think there are?" Isabel asked.
"It looks like less than twenty, more than ten," Connie observed as she peered over Max's shoulder. "Wait. One seems to be breaking away from the main group."
A single dot started to move away from cluster.
"A scout," Max commented. "They're sending someone out to reconnoiter their surroundings."
"It's what I would do," Michael nodded. "Only I'd send out two together."
"Yeah," Max agreed. "But remember. These guys think they're pretty much invincible."
"Then we have a surprise for them," Michael cracked his fingers.
"Let's move closer," Max urged. "I want to be in a position to help the soldiers before they stumble into that viper's nest."
Michael nodded and once again, led the way toward the distant cluster of white dots.

* * *

"Now where is he going?" Chyn stared at the device that allowed him to follow Max and his friends.
Behind him, Bektor seemed to be in a trance. Chyn shook his head and crossed to the window of the motel room they were staying in, a few miles down the road from Max and the others. He peered out into the darkness, then returned to his vigil by the tracking device that they had been using to follow Zan.
"I am beginning to tire of this," Chyn complained, although he knew that Bektor would not hear him. "I grow weary of this miserable planet and their barbarism. I want this duty to come to an end."
"Then you will be pleased to hear my news," Bektor's voice startled him.
"Excellency," Chyn's spun to his superior. "Forgive me. I did not wish to sound disrespectful. You know I am happy to serve."
"Relax, Chyn," Bektor chuckled. "Your wishes are granted. I have just spoken with Commander Kell. It is time. We are to move at noon. This ends tomorrow."

* * *

"This complicates things," Max raised his hand bringing the group to a halt. As they had approached the cluster of dots, they had heard the first instances of gunfire. As one, they had all started to run, halted only by Max's raised arm.
"What does?" Michael stopped but took a step ahead to look at the scene before them.
The soldiers were pinned down behind a wall of rocks a short distance from the mouth of a canyon. They were trying to lay down cover fire, but were pinned down by the skin's energy blasts.
"Over there," Max indicated to one side of the canyon where a small group of soldiers had somehow managed to get themselves cut-off from their comrades.
This group seemed to be in the most danger, as a small squad of skins was approaching them from the shelter of the ravine wall.
"Michael," Max stepped up next to his friend. "Go to the main body of soldiers. Help them to withdraw to that gully over there, under that rock outcrop. They can't get outflanked there. Tell them about the plugs."
"Got it. What are you going to do?"
"Kyle and I will go and get those others."
"Me?" Kyle was startled. "Why me?"
"'Cause you have the alien gun," Max answered him. "We'll need it."
"Max," Liz hurried to her husband.
"It's okay, Liz," he reached out and held her arm. "With my shield, and Kyle using that gun, we'll have the element of surprise. We'll be in and out before they know what's happening."
"Be careful." Their eyes met and held one another's.
Max nodded at her. Tiny flickers of light and subtle changes of color indicated that there was more going on in just that glance.
"You too," he pulled her into a tight hug. "You listen to Michael."
Max turned to Michael, and they nodded to one another.
"I'll look after her," he promised. "I'll look after all of them."

* * *

"Michael," Connie hissed in the gloom where they sheltered behind a boulder. "There are three dots flanking the soldiers here. They're going to pass in front of us in a minute."
"If we attack them," Michael scratched his head, "Max will lose his element of surprise. I wish we brought those radio gizmos."
"We have something better," Isabel reminded him. "We have Liz."
"Liz?" Michael called.
"What do I tell him?"
Michael was grateful for her instant acceptance.
"Ask him how soon he'll make his move. I really don't want to let these aliens through."
"Right." Liz leaned against the rock and her face went blank for a few moments. "He's in position," Liz told Michael when she was back. "He's just about to make his move."
A sudden green glow and two bright flashes of light told Michael that Max and Kyle were already in action.
"Connie, Jesse," Michael hissed. "Can you see them? The skins? They've turned to see what's going on. Hit their spines."
The two gun wielders took careful aim, each realizing just how difficult their task was in the darkness. Isabel, Liz and Michael stood ready to open fire once they had lost their own element of surprise. There were two gunshots, lost amid the staccato bursts of fire from the soldiers. Luck was with Michael as one of the skins exploded into a shower of dust. Three blasts of energy followed, knocking the other two into the nearby rocks. The two skins started to retreat.
"Their spines!" Michael yelled out to the soldiers, hoping that he would be heard above the noise, and not mistaken for an enemy. "Aim for the base of their spines."
Whether from a lucky shot, or one of the soldiers heard Michael's instruction, another of the retreating skins exploded.

"Who are you?" demanded one of the soldiers when Michael led his friends into their compound. There were half a dozen automatic rifles pointed at them.
"We're the friggin' cavalry," Michael growled, pushing one of the barrels to one side. He looked at the man's insignia. "Colonel."
"Welcome to Custer's last stand," the man held his hand out. "The name's Colonel Roberts. U.S. Army Rangers."
"Well, Colonel Roberts," Michael shook his hand. "You can call me Michael, and that ain't Crazy Horse out there attacking you. We want you to move your men over there." He pointed to the gully Max wanted them to move to. "They can't flank you there."
"We've been trying to get there for the past twenty minutes," Roberts confirmed. "I sent a small detachment there. Two of them are down in no-mans land. The other three already made it. They have us pinned down. And, I have some men trapped up ahead."
"We'll help you get to the gully," Michael shrugged. "Someone's already out there helping your men to pull back from that pocket."
"Davis!" Roberts called. "Arm these gentlemen and get these women under cover." He turned to Michael. "I don't like getting mixed up with civilians, but under the circumstances, I have little choice. It seems you know what you're doing, though."
"We haven't been civilians for quite some time," Isabel smirked. "And we have better weapons." She turned to Michael. "Though Jesse and Connie might prefer to use rifles."
"Tell your men," Michael continued, "to aim for the base of their spine. That's their weak point."

* * *

"Who are you?" a wild-eyed sergeant gasped when Max and Kyle appeared in their midst.
"Friends," Max grinned as he concentrated on maintaining the shield around the men. "How are you doing? Can you all walk?"
"All except Cole," the sergeant pointed to an inert body lying on the floor. "Those bastards got him when they surprised us. Who are they and why don't our bullets hurt them? How did you kill one of them?" He pointed to Max's green shield. "And what the hell is that?"
"Let's concentrate on getting out of here, Sergeant," Max looked over the rocks to see where the skins were. "Tell your man to stay behind my shield, but if they see anyone trying to outflank us, to try to hit their spines. They have a weak point, just here," Max pointed to the base of his spine.
"I'm ready when you are, Evans," Kyle held his gun up.
"Sergeant?" Max looked at the soldier.
"Rangers were born ready," the sergeant announced with pride. He moved off to pass the message on to his men.
"Do you think we'll make it?" Kyle seemed worried. "I mean, that's quite a gap to cross." Kyle looked back to where his friends were laying down covering fire to help the other soldiers retreat to the gully.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "They know we know how to kill them, and they have to know that I'm here."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Kyle rolled his eyes. "Suppose they rush you?"
"Kyle? I'm not sure how I know this, but trust me. They are as afraid of me as you are of them."
"'Kay," Kyle nodded. "And I have this equalizer here."
"I just wish we had some more."
"Okay, Mr. Evans," Sergeant Perkins announced his return, using the name he had heard Kyle call him.
A Ranger picked up the dead body of Cole, and draped it over his shoulders. Max was about to speak when Kyle placed his hand on his shoulder.
"It's what they do. They never leave anyone behind."
"But..."
"Are we any different, Max?"

The going was easier than anyone had anticipated. Once the Rangers realized that Max's shield would protect them, they were more confident in their movements. They used the side of the ravine to protect their left flank while Kyle with the alien gun protected the right. They soon reached a safer position, close to their friends.
"Do you think you can handle reaching that gully from here?" Max asked Sergeant Perkins.
"I think so," he looked across the gap to where he could see the rest of his platoon, and some civilians giving cover fire. "Does that mean you won't be joining us?"
"Not just yet, Sergeant," Max shook his head. "They're setting up some kind of weapon over there. I need to find out what it is and possibly even disable it."
"I guess you know what you're doing," Perkins shook his head.
"Kyle, when you get back, tell Michael..."
"You can tell Guerin yourself, when 'we' get back. If you think I'm letting you go up there alone, you're mistaken. Do you have any idea what Liz would do to me?"
"Thanks Kyle," Max nodded. "Sergeant? There's another civilian in there called Michael. Can you tell him what I'm doing, and have him watch my back for me? Tell him that non-Czechs should pull back as fast as they can."
"Okay," Perkins nodded. Czechs? He extended his hand. "Good luck."

* * *

"Damn him!" Michael swore when Perkins relayed the message. "Why does he do this to me?"
"The perils of leadership," Colonel Roberts grinned. "Are you allowed to shoot you're subordinates."
"I wish I could," Michael rolled his eyes. "But he's the one in charge. Not me. Liz? Can you go and find out what he's up to?"
"Wait," Perkins objected. "You're not sending the lady up there?"
"Okay, Michael," Liz nodded. The look on her face told him that she too wanted to know. Michael felt a moment of pity for Max. Seconds later, her face went blank.
"She's getting so good at that," Maria observed.
"Good at what?" Roberts looked confused. "What is going on here?"
"Damn, I wish I had some way of gathering information," Michael shook his head. "I wonder if she can do that in the middle of the skins?"
"I think she has to know the person she's appearing in front of. It's like a connection thing."
"Sergeant Perkins," Roberts called, giving up on trying to understand what was going on. "Put your men on watch, then see to your wounded. We have a temporary aid station set up at the back. Find the other young lady, her name is Maria. She can give you some hot coffee."

* * *

"What are you doing, Max?" Liz demanded when she appeared between him and his shield. She looked cross.
"Are you still here, Liz?" Max seemed surprised. "The skins are too busy with me to worry about the rest of you." Max indicated the white explosions against his green shield.
"We're not leaving without you, Max. Michael wants to know what you are up to." She placed her hands on her hips. "So do I."
"The weapon you saw, Liz. It must be really important to them if their going to all this trouble to set it up. I'm going to go and get it, or destroy it. Just tell Michael to make sure no one gets behind us. Kyle's doing a good job, but he's only one."
"Okay," Liz's response was made with great reluctance. "But just so that you know. No one will leave until you come back."
"That sounds like mutiny," Max smiled.
"Call it what you want. Be careful, Max."
"You too. I love you."
"And I love you, Max. I want you to come back to me."

Having recovered from their initial surprise, the skins were now regrouping, preparing to make an assault on the soldier's defensive positions. Max's bold assault on them threw them at first, but once they realized that it was only Max and one other surrounded by the shield, they turned their attention to him. As soon as it became clear that Max was heading for the large stone, about the size of a soccer ball that they had already placed on a plinth, their resistance doubled. Although his wild shooting from around the edge of Max's shield hit only a few skins, the knowledge that there was a weapon that could kill them pushed them back at last.
"What now, Evans?" Kyle asked when they had surrounded the strange stone with Max's shield. Kyle looked first at the strain on Max's face and the shield that was growing paler.
"I'm going to pour everything I have into this stone, Kyle."
"What does it do?"
"I... I'm not sure. But it can't be good. When it's taken everything from me, start shooting it with the gun. And don't stop."
"It's a rock, Evans. For a start, what can it do? Secondly, the gun won't shoot inanimate objects, remember?"
"Trust me," Max looked up at Kyle. "This rock is animate."
"What?"
"Remember the healing stones?"
"Yeah."
"I think this is the same sort of thing."
"Their weapon is a huge healing stone?"
"I'm not sure if it's a healing stone," Max frowned. "Who's to say it's not the opposite?"
Kyle stared hard at the huge stone.
"Say when," he nodded, aware of the semi-circle of skins around them.

Max looked down at the stone while the skins poured their energy against his shield. He held his hands to either side of the large object and allowed the energy of his mind to flood it.
"It can hold a lot," Max grunted. "Listen carefully, Kyle. I need more energy. I need to pour in what I'm using for the shield. As soon as I drop my shield, shoot the rock. If nothing happens, run. Run like hell."
"What about you?"
"They'll be too interested in capturing me, Kyle. Just get the hell out of here, as fast as you can and don't let Liz stay behind."
"You... you're going to..."
"Ready?"
"No," Kyle shook his head, but he aimed the gun at the stone.
"Now!"
Everything happened at once. Max dropped his shield and diverted all his energy into the stone. Kyle shot the stone, not once as Max had ordered, but three times. Expecting to be blasted from the skins, Kyle remained at his friend's side. A series of explosions rocked their would-be assailants. Someone was shooting at the skins with alien blasts, as well as a hail of bullets that would have cut any human opponents clean in two at the waist. As it was, a few skins exploded into dust, being caught on their self-destruct plugs by a well aimed bullet. That was when Max sensed the coming explosion. He threw himself at Kyle, sheltering his body from the detonation from the stone.

* * *

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WR
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Post by WR » Fri Mar 21, 2003 3:16 pm

Part 34

"They're not paying attention to us," Michael observed as Max's green shield moved closer to the skin's positions. "Come on."
"Where are we going?" Isabel cast a sidelong glance at Michael.
"We're going over there," Michael pointed to the position that Max had extracted the Rangers from. "Roberts! Form two squads. One to come with me, and the other to cross over there." Michael pointed to a shallow depression, visible now that the sun was a little higher. "As soon as they are there, I want a wall of bullets at waist height in front of that shield."
"Uh..." Roberts was staring at the green wall surrounding Max. "Yeah. Then after this is over, you can tell me exactly what's going on here."
"That's a deal, though I don't think you'll like it. Now move it."
"I hope no one shoots Max by accident," Isabel growled as they hurried to their cover.
Once there, Liz peeked over the top and saw how hard Max was being pressed. She started to move around to rush to his assistance.
"No!" Michael grabbed her. "I need you here, Liz. You can't help Max by putting yourself in danger."
"But..."
"No buts. Do as you're told, Liz. We're in way over our heads here."
They looked up just as Max dropped his shield.
"No!" both Liz and Isabel gasped, both fearing the worst.
There was a hail of energy as the trio started to fire at the skins. The soldiers opened fire as Michael had directed. Beside Max, Kyle was shooting at the stone. Max tackled him to the ground. They were just starting to wonder what madness had seized them when the stone exploded. The whole ground shook. A blinding white light lit up the sky, and from the rock that exploded a ring of white light expanded, covering the whole ravine. Michael grabbed both of the girls and pulled them down behind the rocks. When the ring of light touched them, the skins exploded into a shower of dust. Two of the soldiers foolish enough to stand up collapsed in agony, as if engulfed by fire. When it was silent again, heads started to appear, peering from their cover. The skins were gone and a fine shower of dust settled onto the desert floor.

"Max?" Liz looked up. Her heart fell when she saw the inert forms of Max and Kyle. "Max!"
She evaded Michael's attempt to grab her, and rushed toward her husband. Isabel followed, as did Michael. Seeing them moving forward, the Rangers started to rise, and they too approached the two young men that had been at the explosion's epicenter, although they moved with a caution born from their intense training.
"He's breathing," she turned to look at her friends. She noticed Connie's ashen face appearing behind Isabel. "Kyle too," she nodded. "They're both okay."
"Is it over?" Colonel Roberts asked Michael, looking down at Max and Kyle.
"Not by a long shot," Michael shook his head. "But for us, it is. For now. Let's gather the dead and wounded and get the hell out of here."
"Kreig, Bartle, Morrisy, Vann," Roberts snapped. "You see to these two. The rest of you, gather those others, and let's get back to that gully. That's as good a place as any to lick our wounds. We'll secure the perimeter."
Michael looked at the growing light.
"Get a fire going, too," he added.

* * *

Max came to his senses shortly after the Rangers had picked him up. After insisting that he could walk unaided, they let him go. They were immediately replaced by the dark haired beauty they had all seen throw herself at one of them the other day. She wrapped her arm around Max, offering him all the support he needed.
"Don't resist, Max," she smirked. "Just 'cause you're our leader doesn't mean you're not allowed to lean on someone. And that someone happens to be me."
Max, Kyle and the wounded soldiers were placed in a more sheltered corner of the gully they had decided to recover in. Both the medic and the colonel were skeptical about Max's claims that he could help them, but perhaps still in awe from what they had seen, neither tried to stop him.
"Who are you?" Colonel Roberts asked again. "And who was it we were fighting against?"
"You really don't want to know," Max shook his head.
"But..."
"Could we save the questions for later?" Max asked. "I'm rather weak, and I can't see to your wounded and talk at the same time."
Roberts shook his head and backed away to give Max some room.
"Are you sure you're okay, Max?" Liz placed her hand on his shoulder. Her voice was low, gentle and filled with concern.
"Yeah," Max nodded. He covered her hand with his and leaned his head against her arm. "I'll probably need to sleep for a week, but I'll be okay."
"You just take it easy, all right?"
"I will," he smiled.

* * *

"I can't believe he's doing this," Connie looked over at Max who was busy treating the injured men in the only way he knew how. She was sitting by a fire with Liz. "I mean, everyone he deals with learns his secret. How does he know who to trust? It could so easily backfire on him."
"It's who he is, Connie," Liz shrugged. "If he didn't at least try to help those who needed it, he wouldn't be Max. And I wouldn't be here."
"It must put a strain on your relationship," Connie turned to face Liz. "I mean, that thing the other day, that guy. How did Max know that what he was seeing was not what it seemed?"
"I guess we have this... trust. Deep down, we both know we won't deliberately hurt one another. I mean..." Liz shrugged. "Let's go see if any of the others are hiding any injuries. You know how guys can get."
"Yeah," Connie smirked.
The two girls wandered through the small groups of men, noting how differently their friends were behaving among the group of soldiers. Jesse, Isabel and Maria had withdrawn to a quiet corner of the gully where they were talking quietly among themselves. Kyle was inspecting one of the automatic rifles, discussing its merits with one of the soldiers. Judging by the way that their hands were moving in the air, Michael seemed to be talking tactics with Sergeant Perkins. Max of course, was treating the wounded men under the watchful eyes of a very pale looking Colonel Roberts. The soldiers themselves were discussing the night's events, looking at the newcomers with a mixture of awe and suspicion.

"Well, hello there, sweetheart," a familiar voice appeared beside Liz and wrapped an arm around her waist.
From the way Liz's face clouded, it was clear that it was not Max greeting her.
"Hello, Mr. Dixon," Liz twisted to remove herself from his grip. "I see that you're okay."
"Thanks to these buddies of yours," he winked. "And you can call me Mark. So you were worried about me, huh?"
"Not just you," Liz shook her head while her eyes searched for Max.
"I'll probably get a few days leave out of this," his eyes sparkled. "What say you and me head on over to 'Vegas? Where you staying?"
"Um, you know," Liz frowned. "That's not a good idea, sorry."
"Course it is," he smirked. "We'll have a blast. Just the sort of relaxation you need after an adrenaline rush like this. You just give me your..."
"Come on," Connie interrupted, pulling Liz away. "Sorry, Dixon. We have things to do."
"Later," he called.
"You know what your trouble is?" Connie asked Liz in a hushed tone.
"No," Liz shook her head. "What?"
"You're just too damned nice to creeps like that."

* * *

"You strike out?" a soldier laughed as he stepped out of the shadows to stand beside Dixon, watching the two girls move away. He clapped his friend on the back.
"Not sure," he frowned. "I think it's a full count."
"You should forget about her," the man suggested. "She's married."
"So? Married ones want it just as bad as single ones."
"You don't understand," the friend shook his head. "She married to that guy over there." He pointed to Max standing by the injured men.
"He's just a kid. I could handle him with one hand tied behind my back. So what's your point?"
"He was the one who came and got me and the rest from where we got pinned down."
"So?"
"You saw what that other guy, Michael, could do?"
"Sure I did," Dixon nodded. "What of it?"
"Well, that guy there, his name's Max. And he's in charge. From what I hear, he can do the same, and more."
"You mean..."
"Right. Make a move on his wife and he can blast you into atoms."

* * *

"Good morning," Max woke up to find Liz staring into his eyes. "Or afternoon, or whatever it is."
"Its afternoon," Liz smiled. "Just. No one else is up, either. It's a little after twelve."
"Have you been awake long?"
"A few moments," she nodded. "I was just... you know."
"Yeah," Max smiled. "I'm just so glad we got through without getting hurt. I don't think I could have stood that."
"And we saved all those soldiers."
"I just wish I could have done something for the others," Max sighed. "I feel so bad about the soldiers who got sent to the other meteors."
"I only saw the premonition from that Dixon guy, Max," Liz caressed his chin. "We don't know what happened to the others. Maybe they escaped okay."
"Maybe," he agreed. "This would have been so much easier if the government had an open attitude to the idea of alien life forms."
"You know," Liz frowned. "I was just thinking. In all the excitement last night, we used our real names."
"I thought of that too," Max sighed. "There's not a lot we can do about that though. At least we managed to sneak away from the Rangers without having to answer any of the questions they had. I think they were as eager to get away from that place as we were."
Liz looked long and hard into Max's eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"I seem to be," he chuckled. He knew exactly what she was asking. "I went over everything before I went to sleep, and it all seems okay. I still feel a little weak, but that's hardly surprising since we've only managed to grab two hours sleep."
"You're sure?"
"Yeah," he placed his hand on the side of her face.
Liz leaned down to him, and joined him in a tender kiss. Instantly, he felt her connection to him as she once again checked him out for any damage that he might not be aware of. For his part, he allowed himself to check her out, just for fun.
"Okay," she nodded, breaking their tender, yet magical kiss.
"Didn't you believe me?" he teased.
"Just checking."
"I just need a day or two to rest," Max rolled over, pinning Liz to the bed.
"Max?" she bit her lower lip. "What will we do about the other skins?"
"I'm not sure," he sighed. "But we can't leave them where they are."
"We need more weapons. How's your electronics knowledge? Do you think you can reverse engineer that gun we found?"
Max looked at her for a moment. His eyes flew wide.
"Do you know which room Kyle's in?" he asked.
"Next door," Liz narrowed her eyes. "Why."
"Get dressed," he urged. "I have an idea."

Max opened the door and stepped out into the Nevada midday heat to find a surprise outside his door.
"Michael?" Max frowned. "What are you doing here?"
Michael's look was questioning, as if Max had asked a stupid question.
"He's been there since we got back," Maria called from her door. She stepped out to join Max and Liz. "After you guys went to bed, he kinda zoned out, went all weird on me, talking about his duty, and went and stood there."
"Max," Liz called before he could deal with Michael. "Look. It's Colonel Roberts."
Groaning in frustration, Max turned to look toward the approaching jeep. Driving the jeep was Sergeant Perkins. Beside him in the passenger seat was Colonel Roberts.
"Max," he nodded. His arm started to rise as if in salute, but he managed to push it back down. "Michael, Miss Elizabeth."
"Please," Liz smiled. "Call me Liz."
"How did you find us?" Max's eyes narrowed.
"Are you kidding?" Roberts laughed. "We're Rangers. I had you followed."
"Why did you do that?" Max's face turned red with anger. He felt Michael step up beside him.

"Now, first, let me apologize about that." He held his hands up to try to placate Max's sudden eruption. "But in this game, it helps to keep an eye on your allies, as well as your enemies. You see, Max, I know a little more about what happened last night. When we got back to our barracks to file my report, I listened a bit, did a bit of recon, and a little bit of math."
"And what did you come up with?" Liz asked.
"What's going on?" Isabel appeared at the door to their apartment. She showed the signs of dressing in haste. Jesse appeared behind her.
"I'd feel more comfortable if we weren't so public," Roberts glanced up and down the row of rooms.
"Is everything okay?" Kyle and Connie joined them outside, their guns in their hands.
"Yeah," Max nodded. "Colonel Roberts is about to explain last night to us."
"Should be good," Kyle smirked.
They all followed Max into his room. Max sat on the bed, with Liz at his side, and indicated the chair by the table for Roberts. Perkins stood by the door, while the rest of the gang stood in pairs around the room. Apart from Michael. He stood close to Max with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Some men from the other four squads managed to extract themselves from their own engagements last night," Roberts continued. "They all reported the same thing. The enemy was invulnerable to their bullets, and seemed to shoot blasts of energy from their hands. They were lucky to escape with their lives. Then it came to my turn. I reported how these strangers arrived out of the blue, helped us and then vanished. I told them what I saw. They are currently deciding whether or not to send me for psychiatric evaluation."
"That's the thanks you get," Kyle laughed. "We've been relegated to a figment of someone's imagination."

"What do your superiors think is going on?" Max's eyes narrowed.
"Terrorists," he shrugged. "Using some new secret weapon. But I know different. I know what was really going on out there."
"And that is?" Max frowned.
"Aliens," Roberts watched for Max's reaction. He wasn't disappointed. "I'm right, aren't I? God dammit! Where did they come from, and what do they want?"
"We don't know," Max's lie came easy.
"Sure you do," Roberts shrugged. "But I understand your need for secrecy. Hell, if I had the FBI after me, I'd be secretive too." He caught the nervous exchange of glances. Only Max, and Michael who seemed in a world of his own, didn't flinch. "That's right," he nodded. "I know you're all aliens too."
"Time to go," Michael was trying to force Max toward the door.
"No," Max shook himself free. He turned back to Roberts. "We're not all aliens, Colonel Roberts. Just Michael, Isabel and... me. The rest of us are human."
"What about her," he pointed to Liz, next to Max.
"She's human too," Max shrugged. "She just has certain... abilities. I want to know what you're going to do with this knowledge."
"We knew this day would come," Roberts started. "We knew that one day, all these alien reports would prove to be true, well, most of them. And we have long suspected that unless we have a response force, we're going to be overrun."
"We?" Max raised an eyebrow.
"There's a small group of us who have been preparing for this day. I have at my disposal a small body of men, most of them are no longer on active duty, but are still highly trained soldiers. Not just from the Rangers. All the branches of the Army. Marines too. All we need is a place to get together and train, away from prying eyes. We would need supplies, though I'm sure we have... friends who can help out. And weapons. We need some weapons that'll do some good against these... this enemy. We also need someone to lead us. Someone who knows what we're up against and how to handle it." Roberts paused and studied Max. "We always hoped it would be someone more like Schwartzkopf rather than Spock. I saw what you and your buddy are capable of. If you're prepared to lead, I have an army who would follow."
"Me?" Max stepped back. "Why me, I mean, they don't even know me."
"They will. When they hear how you and your friends risked your lives to save us. When they hear that you know what you're doing. When they hear that you healed half a dozen men that would have died before we got back to our barracks. Men follow people like you because they know that you won't let them down. Reputation is worth more than you know in this game. And you are just what we need."
"And they're what we need, Max," Liz pulled his face around to hers. "I'm not letting the world end this time. Not when we've been through so much already because of it."
Max stared into the distance, his mind racing.
"Colonel Roberts? How soon could you get a package hand delivered to Roswell, New Mexico?"
"Roswell?" Roberts thought for a moment. "A few hours."
"Good," Max smiled. "Wait here."
Twenty minutes later, carrying a box that would only be able to be opened by Max's father, Colonel Roberts climbed into the jeep with Perkins and they drove away.
As they watched them leave, another car pulled to a stop in front of them. At once, they started to retreat toward Max's room.
"Stop!" Michael commanded them. He was holding both Connie's and Kyle's guns.
"What are you doing, Michael?" Max demanded. He took a step toward his friend, but Michael cocked the gun, and pointed it at the nearest human. It was Jesse. Everyone's eyes widened.
"Michael?" Maria demanded. She was about to march up to him, but a stern look from Max held her back.
"It's not Michael, Maria," he warned. "I don't know how, but he's not himself right now. You know you said he zoned out? Someone's controlling him."
"Excellent observation," one of the two men now standing beside their car commented.
Everyone turned to face the newcomers. They were openly grinning. As soon as they saw Liz, however, their smiles fell. A look of hatred and fear spread across their faces.
"You!" one of them gasped. He reached into the car while everyone looked at each other and Michael, feeling more nervous. The man reappeared and threw something to Michael. "Do your duty, Lord Rath!" he commanded.
"At once, your Excellency," Michael bowed. He turned to face Liz. "Elizabeth Parker," he grabbed her wrist and a cold piece of metal was surrounding it. He easily twisted her so that he could do the same to her other wrist. "You are hereby under arrest for your crimes of treason against the Royal Seal of Antar and for the murder of her Royal Highness, Queen Ava of Antar."
"No!" Max leapt forward.
At once, there was a bright light and Max collapsed into a heap on the floor.

* * *

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WR
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Post by WR » Fri Mar 28, 2003 4:02 pm

Part 35

Code: Select all

DATELINE:  November 23rd, 2002 . . . . . .Rachel, Nevada . . . . . .Reports of small alien spaceships landing around Groom Lake, Nevada, more commonly known as 'Area 51', are being strenuously denied by Washington officials.  Eyewitnesses claim to have seen "at least five" bright lights descending from the night sky and gently landing on the barren desert floor.  Officials state that the streaks of light seen in the night sky were the five fragments of the Meteor WR-2002.  These claims are refuted by witnesses who claim that they [the objects] came down with far too much control to have been meteorites.  When questioned, Mr P. Burns of Rachel, Nevada, stated that each fiery ball looked to be the size of his Winnebago, maybe bigger.  Residents of Ash Springs also claim that while a large number of soldiers, stationed at the nearby National Guard barracks left shortly after the objects landed, only a small fraction returned the next morning.  One resident is quoted as saying "They looked like they'd seen some action and couldn't believe what they'd seen."
A Washington spokesperson announced in a press conference that "No alien spacecraft landed in the United States of America.  No soldiers were deployed to intercept these non-existent spacecraft, and no soldiers saw any action that night.  The balls of light were remnants of WR-2002 and soldiers were deployed to protect sightseers from injury.  The soldiers that did not return to Ash Springs were deployed elsewhere for training maneuvers for the upcoming conflict with the forces of terrorism in the Middle East."
Critics, however, remained unconvinced.  Mr. Timothy Sparsholt, a member of the Area 51 Watchers group, is quoted as saying "This proves the conspiracy theories.  Why would aliens choose to surround Area 51?  I'll tell you why.  Because they're mad.  Mad and pissed off over all the things our government has been doing to their buddies over the years.  Now it's payback time.  They've come to take their ships back."
Other witnesses claim that they not only heard gunfire, but that strange, bright lights were seen in the area close to Ash Springs.
In response to these allegations, the government has expanded the infamous no-go zone around Area 51 and are even evicting residents from entire towns.  The excuse they are giving is that there is a danger from residual radiation from fragments of the meteorites not burned up.
Sceptics are pointing to this as evidence that we are indeed under attack from another planet, and that the government wishes to keep this fact quiet. . . . . . . AP.
* * *

It was to a strange, unfamiliar feeling that Max woke up. His hand reached out to his side, and found... nothing. He sat up and looked around the strange room he found himself in. Although the room was large, it also appeared more stark than he was used to. It reminded him of a set from a Science Fiction film, complete with walls that curved from the floor to the ceiling. A constant hum pervaded his senses. What bothered him most, however, was the fact that he had woken up alone. For the first time, that he could remember, Max had woken up without Liz's presence nearby. Shouting from outside what appeared to be a circular door drew his attention. He threw back the thin but surprisingly warm sheet and leapt from his bed. As he approached the door, looking for some mechanism with which to open it, the door slid open, separate segments opening in a way that reminded Max of a camera's aperture. The sight outside the door startled him. The corridor outside was again reminiscent of a Star Trek set, with circular, tube-like corridors. Guards, clad in tight-fitting, red body suits stood at either side of his door. Standing in front of them, Isabel was demanding to be allowed in to see Max. She looked ready to explode.
"We're sorry, Princess Vilondra," one of the guards shook his head. "You are not permitted access."
"What's going on?" Max asked the two guards. He was unsure of the situation. He remembered the two strange men turning up. "Am I a prisoner?"
"Of course not," the two guards looked both awed and surprised. They both snapped to attention. "Your Majesty."
"Maj..." Max's mouth dropped. He looked at Isabel, still scowling at the two men. "Where are we?"
"We are on board the royal cruiser, Nyelda, Sire," the guard responded.
"I see," Max frowned. "And where exactly is the royal cruiser, Nyelda?"
"We're hiding behind the planet the Earthlings call Pluto, to protect us from their primitive, yet effective detection devices."
"Am I free to come and go as I please?"
"Yes, Sire," the guard looked puzzled. "This is, after all, your ship."
"Come on in, Iz," Max stood to one side. As Isabel stormed past the guards with a contemptuous flick of her head, Max turned again to the guards. "Have you seen my wife?"
"Max!" Isabel tried to warn him.
"We're sorry," the two men bowed their heads. "But we have, as yet, not located Queen Ava."
"No," Max shook his head. "I mean..."
"Max," Isabel pulled him into the room. The door slid shut behind them.
"Iz," Max frowned. "Are you okay?"
"No," Isabel growled, staring at the door. "I'm not."
"Do you know where Liz is?" He started to look worried. "I thought she would have been here, with me."
"What was the last thing you remember?" Isabel watched Max through narrowed eyes.
He gave his sister a nervous glance before he started to pace.
"Um," he started to chew his bottom lip. "We were talking to Colonel Roberts. He left, and then..." Max's eyes narrowed. "Those two others arrived. That's... that's all I remember." Max shook his head and sat on the edge of his bed. "Why do I have this feeling that something bad happened? Wait... Did Michael arrest Liz?"
"The two men," Isabel sat beside him. "They told him to."
"Why?"
"Something about murdering Ava and committing treason."
"Liz didn't murder Tess," Max frowned. Who were these two guys?"
"Their names are Chyn and Bektor. They've come from Antar. They say they're representatives of the throne. Um, you. Max. They seemed to recognize Liz. They seemed mad at her."
"I guess Tess must have told them all about her," Max snorted.
"Maybe," Isabel nodded. "Anyway, Michael put these handcuffs on her. You moved to stop him, but you got zapped with something. Liz tried to rush to you, but she was held back by some force field. We all were." Tears formed in Isabel's eyes. "Then they separated us. They locked Jesse, Kyle, Maria and Connie in one of the rooms, and loaded you, me and Liz into the Suburban. We drove the rest of the day and into the night, to a place near Roswell."
"Roswell?"
"Yeah," she nodded. "It was where they left their ship. They've been sent to get us. Max? Michael's been acting very strange. He was the only one not affected by the force field, and he was helping them. I asked him what he was doing. Know what he said? 'Something I should have done a long time ago.' Then he said, 'That witch has held Zan in her power for too long.'"
"So..." Max looked more than worried, now. "Where's Liz?"
"Those two aliens, Bektor and Chyn. When we got on this ship, they took her away and had her locked in a cell. They've done something to her. I can't get into her dreams. I tried to get in to see her. The guards wouldn't let me, but I could hear her crying. I called to her, but I'm not sure she could hear me. She didn't respond."
"Where is Michael?" Max stood up, his face starting to cloud over. "Where is this Chyn and Bektor?"
"Chyn and Bektor spend their time in the Council room, crowing about how they have returned the King of Antar. I haven't seen Michael, but when I do, I'm going to kill him. Max, there's something you should know."

The door slid open and a small, thin man entered the room. Across his extended arms lay a sky blue body suit.
"Ah, Your Majesty," he gave a very formal, florid bow. The smile on his face was one that said he had been waiting for this day a long time.
"Who are you?" Max exchanged an amused glance with Isabel.
"I am Gant, Sire," he looked hurt that Max did not know him. "Your personal valet. Now that you have recovered from your ordeal on Earth, I have come to dress you."
"That can wait," Max waved the extended blue suit away. "Who's in charge here?"
"You are, Sire," Gant looked confused.
"Oh," Max's eyes narrowed. "Where can I find Chyn and Bektor?"
"They await your majesty's pleasure within the Council Room, Sire. That is why I have come to dress you."
"What's wrong with my..." Max noticed that he was wearing a pair of silk like pajamas. "Where are my clothes?"
"I have them here, Sire," Gant again lifted the bodysuit.
"No," Max shook them away. "My other clothes."
"Those worthless rags were vaporized when I prepared you for your rest, Sire. Now if you'll just permit me..."
Gant stepped behind Max and tried to remove the shirt. Max spun around, grabbed Gant's arm and threw him across the room. The startled valet collapsed onto Max's bed. Max passed his hand in front of his clothing, turning them into a black tee-shirt, blue denim jeans and a comfortable pair of utility shoes.
"Let's go, Iz," Max turned for the door.
"I told you," Isabel smirked at Gant. "I warned you what would happen if you tried that."

She turned to hurry after Max. She found him talking to the guards.
"But Sire, our orders are to remain here until you have been summoned."
"Good," Max nodded. "You stay here."
"I think they wanted you to stay with them," Isabel grinned as she led him down the corridor.
"Where are they keeping Liz?" he smiled at his sister.
"This way," Isabel seemed startled at Max's sudden change. She led Max through more corridors until she came to another door with red clad guards standing outside.
"We have already told you, Princess Vilondra," one of the guards rolled his eyes. "You are not allowed in and she is not allowed out."
Isabel smiled at them, and stepped to one side. The guard's eyes bulged when they saw her companion, and snapped to attention.
"Your Majesty!" they saluted.
"Release the prisoner," Max ordered. His voice had an edge of steel to it.
"I'm sorry, Sire," the first guard stammered. "Lord Bektor said..."
"Who is in charge here?" Max asked, his voice low and dangerous.
"You are, Sire," they saluted again.
"Then release them, now!"
It was a voice that few could deny. The two guards exchanged nervous glances but neither moved to the door. Max stepped between the two guards and held his hand at what appeared to be a locking mechanism. His hand glowed white, but the door refused to open.
"Only Lord Rath may open the door," the first guard informed him. "The witch inside is his prisoner."
"Am I allowed to execute people?" Max snapped.
"There are cases," the guards nodded, looking apprehensive.
Max grabbed the nearest guard and pinned him to the curved surface of the wall.
"The next person who refers to my Liz as a witch will die, horribly!"
"Yes, Sire," the man squeaked.

"What's so funny?" Max glared at Isabel as he left the guard sliding to a heap on the floor while he led her toward what Isabel said was the direction of the Council Chamber.
"You," she giggled. "All this time, you've like, run away from who you are. Now that you're here, it's like you're a natural, like you really want to be king after all."
"They want a king?" Max snarled. "I'll give them one. I'll ram it so far down their throats they'll want to dump us back on Earth just to get rid of me. Now let's go find Michael."
He hadn't taken more than ten paces before Max stopped, turned and looked at Isabel with sympathy in his eyes.
"I'm sorry," he frowned. "I'm so wrapped up with what's happening to me and Liz, I forget that you have your problems too. You must be missing Jesse."
"Yeah," her face fell. "But at least I know he's safe, and he has friends to help him. Liz is all alone in there."
"Can you dream walk him?"
"No," she shook her head. "I think he's too far away. I couldn't reach him."
"Maybe it's the ship," Max suggested. "You couldn't reach Liz, either, right? Maybe they have some... field blocking you."
"No," she smirked. "I tried walking your dreams while you were out. Fortunately, I didn't see anything to scar me for life."
"They'll look after each other," Max confirmed. "Maybe they'll all head back to Roswell. It'll be safe for them, without us, and without the FBI."
"Maybe," she looked away. "What are we going to do, Max?"
Max pulled his sister into a brotherly hug.
"We're going to fix this, Iz. Then we're all going back to find our friends, our... family. Now lets find Michael and sort this out."

* * *

"All right, Bektor," Max spat when he burst into the room. All traces of his earlier concern with Isabel evaporated when he saw the man responsible for their predicament. "What's going on?"
"Ah," the man called Bektor rose from his seated position in a chair, a short distance in front of a raised dais on which two thrones sat. "Your Majesty." He bowed low. "Welcome aboard the royal cruiser, Nyelda."
"Never mind all that. What is going on?"
"We are trying to locate the whereabouts of the duplicate Queen Ava, Sire. Once she has been recovered, we can return to..."
"Not that," Max shook his head. "What have you done with my friends. With my wife?"
"What do you mean, Sire?" Bektor looked puzzled.
"Why is my wife locked up like some common criminal."
"Because that is precisely what she is," a voice spoke from behind him.
"Michael," Max turned. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You will refer to me by my title, Sire," Michael bowed. "It was one earned with honor and pride, not given out of derision. Please refer to me as Lord Rath."
"I swear Mi... Rath, if you call me Zan, I'll find out just how much power I have as a king and leave your particles scattered as a new ring around Pluto. Now I want you to release Liz."
"No," Rath shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't do that. She will stand trial for her crimes..."
"Crimes? Michael, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Treason," Rath shrugged. "Against you. And more importantly, the murder of our Queen."
"Tess killed herself. She killed herself to get the Air Force off our backs."
"Her name was Ava. Queen Ava," Rath growled. "And how do we know Ava killed herself? Because the criminal said so?"
"As I recall," Max glared, "you voted to hand Tess over to the authorities. Let her fry, you said. Liz said no. She had the tie breaking vote, and she said to let Tess live."
"That was not me," Rath shook his head. "Don't you see that? That was the weakling called Michael. Even he was under her spell. It's what she has done to you, Zan. You are weak because of her. Ava tried to warn us, but we didn't listen. The sooner we have our essence extracted from this human DNA, the better. You can't rule Antar like this."
"You know what, Mi... Rath?" Max pushed him back. "You rule Antar. I don't want anything to do with it."
"You have no choice."
"Don't I? Watch me."
"As soon as you have your new Antarian body, you will see things differently."
"What do you mean?" his eyes narrowed.
"I was trying to tell you," Isabel interrupted. "They plan to extract our essence from these bodies and put them into bodies created from Antarian DNA."
"Can they do that?" he turned to face his sister.
"Apparently," she gave a worried shrug. "They seem to think they can."
"It's not going to happen," Max shook his head.

"It will, Za... Max," Bektor announced, joining the conversation. He caught himself in time, Max's angry glare warning him how close he had come to experiencing his wrath. "And once it has, you will find yourself horrified that you sought to corrupt the path of justice. But you will see. You will see at the trial, the crimes that have been committed against you, against Antar. And it will horrify you. Lord Rath understands. Now that he is no longer under the witch's spell, he has volunteered for a most stern duty."
"And what duty is that?"
"He has requested to be the chief prosecutor."
"After everything she has done for us? For you?"
"No, Zan," Michael snapped. "'To' us. 'To' you. 'To' Antar."
"How can you say that?" Max was walking into Rath, pushing him back while shouting in his face. "Did you forget how Tess killed Alex? Did you forget how Tess and Nacedo plotted against us?"
"The human's life was inconsequential," Rath waved his arms in frustration. "In any case, we only have the defendant's words that accuse Ava of that crime. Where is her proof? Ava sought only to return you to Antar. Again, you have no proof of this so-called conspiracy with our enemies."
"Tess admitted her crimes to me."
"When? Who was present to witness this?"
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"No," Rath shook his head. "I am merely pointing out how much your mind has been deceived by the one you call Liz. Wait until you hear the evidence, Za... Ma... Sire. You will understand then."
"You chose to stay," Max reminded him. "For Maria."
"I was beguiled into staying. And seduced. Beguiled by the witch, seduced by her friend. It will be a pleasure to prosecute her."
"And who will be defending her?"
"I doubt we will find any who would want to," Rath shrugged. "But one will be appointed."
"I'll defend her," Max stated.
"I'm afraid that's impossible," Bektor joined the conversation. "The king is not allowed to act as defender, prosecutor, or judge. I'm sure you can see why."
"Does everyone on this ship think the same way?" Max narrowed his eyes. "Does everyone hate Liz?"
"Of course," Bektor's smile was thin and self-satisfied.
"I order that she be given a fair trial. I hereby order, as King of Antar, that Liz be found someone who will defend her to the best of their ability."
"Like I said," Bektor smiled. "There is no one."
"There is someone," Max smirked. "There is someone who will defend her."
"The human, Jesse?" Rath sneered. "He won't know our ways. He'll be in over his head."
"He'll have help," Max smiled. "He'll have a good team behind him."
"Who? Who from Antar will help him?"
"Me."
"But..."
"You said I'm not allowed to act as defender, prosecutor or judge. Well, I can help Jesse, and I will. I'll act as his advisor. And he's going to want his own witnesses. He's going to want Maria, Kyle and Connie brought with him."
"But Sire," Bektor attempted to soothe things over with a placating tone. "Please remember, first and foremost, you are the King of Antar."
"Wrong!" Max spat. "First and foremost, I'm Liz's husband."
"It doesn't matter," Rath shrugged. "The evidence against her is overwhelming. The sentence is a forgone conclusion."
"And what sentence is that?"
"As soon as we find her guilty," Rath grinned, "the human witch will be executed."

* * *

User avatar
WR
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Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2001 10:22 am
Location: Somewhere over England

Post by WR » Fri Apr 04, 2003 2:13 pm

Part 36

Connie sat in the corner of the motel room and watched her new friends trying to come to terms with the disappearance of the four young people that had come to mean so much to them all. Disappearance was hardly the word for it. They had all but been abducted. The two strangers who had arrived that afternoon had somehow persuaded Michael to help them. He handcuffed Liz, knocked Max out, and the three of them had bundled the other three into their Suburban and driven away. Along with Jesse, Maria, and of course, Kyle, she found herself stranded in the middle of Nevada. It had been Kyle who had taken charge. The other two were in no state to do much. Jesse was frantic with his concern over Isabel, while Maria was upset over her boyfriend's strange behavior as well as the predicament her best friend was in. Kyle's first action was to search Max and Liz's room, where he had found Liz's money belt. At least they had money. His next action was to see if he could hot-wire the car that the two strange men had left behind. He was successful; they then had transportation. After packing their belongings, they drove in the direction that Max and the others had disappeared, east. At last, they were too tired to drive any more, and had stopped at a small motel for the night.
"So," Kyle addressed the small group. "We've driven all day and seen no sign of them. What do you think we should do?"
"She'll get in touch with me," Jesse's blank face stared at nothing in particular. "Tonight, when I'm asleep. She'll tell us where they are." He looked up at Kyle. "Maybe I should try to sleep now. I mean, maybe she's trying to get in touch with me."
"If she was," Maria shook her head, "she can get into your mind even if you're awake."
"She can?" Jesse frowned.
"Yeah," Maria nodded. "She's done that twice that I know of. Once when Max was in the white room, and again when she went into Pierce's mind to find out about Nacedo."
"I still find it hard to come to terms with all this," Connie looked down at her feet. "I mean, you guys are so blasé about it, like it's everyday stuff."
"It is, for us," Maria smirked. "I've been living with this for three years now."
"Does it get any easier?"
"Some days are better than others," Maria shrugged.
"Max will find a way out," Kyle decided. "He and Liz will think of something, and when they do, they'll come looking for us. Let's make it easy for them, and go to the one place we know we'll be safe, and where we will have allies, people who will watch our back."
"You mean Roswell," Maria looked at Kyle. "I agree. I mean, we can stay in a motel out of town and let our parents know where we are. Liz will get in touch with her mom and dad, and they can like, tell her where we are."
"What about that place on 285?" Kyle chuckled. "I seem to recall how you guys liked that place."
"You want a fat lip, Valenti?" Maria snarled.

* * *

"Philip," Diane smiled as she entered the kitchen. "Look who's come to see us."
"Mrs. Ramirez," Philip looked up from his morning paper and smiled when Jesse's mother stepped into the room behind Diane. She looked upset. "Have you had breakfast yet?"
"No," the older woman shook her head. "But I couldn't eat anything anyway."
"Oh?" Philip frowned. "Are you okay? Is anything the matter?"
"It's... it's just that I haven't heard from Jesse. He called me a few weeks ago to say he was going on a vacation to New Orleans. I was happy that he was trying to move on, you know... after he and... Isabel... Anyway, I called his office last week, and they haven't heard from him either. He hasn't called me and I'm getting worried. I was wondering if you knew somebody... anybody, who might be able to do something? Like, find him."
Philip looked at Diane, turned his palms upward and raised his eyes. Diane shrugged.
"I'll see what I can do, Mrs. Ramirez," Philip smiled. "I know he had one or two things he wanted to take care of, so... Let me talk to a few of my friends, and I'll get back to you."
"Thank you, Mr. Evans," she looked a little more relieved than when she had come in.
"It's a pleasure," he nodded. "I'm sure he's fine, though. Probably just a little forgetful. And please, it's Philip, not Mr. Evans."
Mrs. Ramirez nodded. "Have you heard from your kids lately?" she inquired, more for the sake of politeness.
"Not for a while now," Philip shook his head. "But they usually find some way to send word to us."
She nodded and allowed Diane to escort her to the door. He heard them say their good-byes, and the door closed.
"Philip," Diane called when she returned to the kitchen. She looked concerned. "I guess it's our day for visitors."
"Why?" Philip took a gulp of his coffee. "Now who's here?"
"I put him in the living room."
"Put who, Diane?"
"He says he's from the U.S. Rangers. A Colonel Roberts."

* * *

General Nikolas stood in front of a mirror, stretching his arms and his legs and rotating his shoulders, as though he was stretching himself into a new suit. The body of a young man in his mid twenties looked back. He had short, blond hair and piercing blue eyes.
"At least it's not the body of a fucking pre-adolescent kid," he spat. "Perhaps I can get myself laid."
"You have someone in mind?" one of the three men standing behind him raised his eyebrows.
"Oh yeah," Nikolas smirked. "So, what do you have to report? Are the bases established?"
"Four of them are, sir," the man nodded. "The force fields are in place, and the stones ready to begin their transmission. To the humans, they'll look just like an outcrop of large rocks."
"Only four?" He turned to face the men. "What of the fifth? You know that we need to have all five stones in place to revive the men held in those storage vaults. You know that it takes all five to relay the beacon for the rest of our warriors to begin transference down here."
"Yes, sir. But..."
"But?" Nikolas frowned. "I'm not sure I like this. But what?"
"Sir, Zan and the others attacked the fifth base. We weren't expecting an attack, and somehow, Zan... he... He blew up the stone."
"What?" Nikolas threw the man against the far wall with a wave of his hand. "How could he have done that? How could he have possibly known? How did he even know where we would be? Bring me the warriors responsible."
""None are left, sir. They all... perished."
"Zan killed them all?"
"So far as we can tell, yes. We found no survivors in their designated sector."
"Have you heard from Kivar?"
"Not yet, General Nikolas. He's still following Vilondra."
"What is it with him? He only wanted her because it would annoy Zan. She's already blown him off once. What makes him think she won't do it again?" Nikolas started to think. "How soon can we get a replacement stone down here?"
"Not for at least four weeks."
"How many more men are on their way?"
"We only have another two hundred, sir. They should start landing in a few weeks. We were relying on the..."
"Has that human fool, Baurline managed to find Zan yet?"
"No, sir. He keeps asking us to check the equipment. Apparently, the sensors don't detect Zan's presence."
Nikolas crossed to the window and looked out into the street beyond.
"Where on Earth are you, Zan?" he shook his head.

* * *

Deputy Jim Valenti walked through the front door of his house, threw his keys and his hat onto the kitchen counter and crossed to the refrigerator. He opened it, pulled out a cold bottle of beer, twisted the cap off and took a deep draught of the contents. He closed the door and turned to the wall where he had hung a picture of his son, with his friends, taken at the motel they had all gathered at after the siege in northern New Mexico.
"Cheers," he raised his bottle to them.
The telephone in his living room started to ring. He glanced at the clock and decided that it must be Amy. They had been seeing a lot of each other for a while now, and it was only time before they both decided they no longer enjoyed living alone. After all, they had been spending most of their nights at each other's house anyway.
"Hello?" he answered expecting a woman's voice.
"Jim? It's Hanson. Look, I'm sorry to do this to you, seeing how you've just come off duty an' all. But I've got a report of an attempted break in."
"Uh-huh," Jim shook his head. "And where might that be?"
"433 Crestview."

* * *

Isabel stared through the viewing portal at the front of the ship and watched the approaching planet that had technically been her home for longer than Antar had ever been. As the continent of North America was in darkness, she could not make out the shape of the landmass, or pinpoint their destination. She could, however, pick out the patches of lighting that indicated large centers of population. At last, the ship started to glow signifying that they were entering the Earth's atmosphere. She glanced at her companion who was piloting the ship for her.
"You look like you've done this before," she commented.
"No, Your Highness," the young Antarian shook his head. "At least, not on this planet."
"How close are you landing?"
"King Zan... I mean... Ma... Max ordered me to land in the desert on the opposite side to where the Granolith once stood. He felt that it might draw unwanted attention to an area that was special to you."
"How close to Roswell? I don't want to have to walk too far, you know."
"I will land just over a distance that you know as one mile outside of the boundary called the city limits."

It amazed Isabel that when she looked back at the ship as she headed along the highway toward town that the craft in which she had landed looked like nothing more than an outcrop of rocks.
"It's our standard camouflage," the pilot nodded, as though he read Isabel's mind.
"You didn't have to come," she turned away and started walking.
"I could not leave Your Highness unaccompanied in a hostile environment," he looked shocked.
"Firstly, I grew up in this environment and it's no more hostile than that ship my brother is still on, trying to save the life of his wife. Secondly, drop the 'Highness' bit. Down here, I'm Isabel. And if you want to see Antar again, never, ever call me Vilondra. Got it?" Her voice was as sharp as a freshly stropped razor blade.
"Yes, Your High... Isabel," the young man shook his head up and down.
"Now, let's go find our friends."
"How will you do that? They could be anywhere."
"Easy," Isabel smiled. She sat down on a bench by a bus stop just on the outskirts of town and pulled out a photograph of her husband, Jesse. She smiled, touched the picture, closed her eyes and concentrated.

* * *

"So where are we heading?" Kyle called from his seat next to the man Isabel introduced as Sredyn. He wasn't totally comfortable with one hundred percent aliens, but as Isabel and Jesse were currently engaged in another bout of lip locking in the back of the small car they had been left, it had fallen to one of the other three to sit in front. He doubted Connie would want to, and Maria was still too pissed at anything non-human to even consider asking her. So he rode shotgun.
"We're here," Sredyn nodded as he pulled the car off the road in front of an outcrop of rocks.
"Where's here, exactly?" Maria asked looking through the windows.
Sredyn climbed from the car, followed by Kyle, Connie and Maria. Isabel and Jessie took a little longer.
"Isabel?" Maria turned to her friend. "What are we doing out here?"
"Okay guys, here's the situation. As you know, Michael went all funny and arrested Liz when those two guys turned up. Anyway, they took..."
"Wait, wait," Kyle held up his hand. "Who were those two guys?"
"And why did they arrest Liz? I mean, what did she do? He said something about treason. And murder."
"The one in charge, Bektor, he's some kind of... he's like the representative of the Royal Seal of Antar."
"You mean the king? Like, Max?" Kyle narrowed his eyes.
"No, it's more specific than that. He represents the Royal Seal itself. It's kind of complicated. Anyway, that other guy was his sidekick."
"Like Robin?" Kyle grinned.
"'Cept he wasn't no boy wonder," Maria growled.
"There's a third somewhere," Isabel continued. "Only they can't find her. Anyway, they have some kind of machine that makes Michael act more like Rath. I think it suppresses his human side. Anyway, as Rath, he arrested Liz because they think he thinks she killed Tess that night."
"Michael thinks Liz killed Tess?" Maria frowned. "No way."
"Not Michael. Rath does. Remember him? The one who dumped you at the side of the road and trashed our apartment?"
"Okay, so where are they now?" Connie spoke up.
"This is the hard bit," Isabel smiled. "Believe it or not, they are all on a space ship hiding behind the planet, Pluto."
"Wait," Kyle narrowed his eyes. "Is that this new moon people have been claiming to see?"
"I guess," Isabel nodded. "They have to move out a little bit to send messages to their agents here on Earth. People like the two monkeys who appeared a while back."
"So are you saying that Max and Liz are on a space ship?" Maria asked.
"Yeah," Isabel nodded. "And the thing is, Max needs your help. They want to try Liz, so he needs someone to represent her, someone who doesn't hate her like the Antarians do."
"You mean me," Jesse looked skyward. "You want me to go up there and play at being an intergalactic lawyer."
"Bar wars," Kyle smirked.
"What about us?" Connie moved straight to the point.
"Max wants the rest of you as witnesses."
"He wants us to go up there?" Kyle looked surprised. "Hell, if it's to save Liz, of course I'll go."
"Thanks, Kyle."
"I hardly know her," Connie shrugged. "I don't think I'll be much help."
"You're welcome to come," Isabel cast a pleading look at Connie. She knew Kyle would feel better with her presence.
"So how do we get there?" Maria was staring up into the sky. "A transporter beam, like on Star Trek?"
"No," Sredyn shook his head. "In that ship." He pointed at the rocks.
Maria looked at the triangular shape of the outcrop.
"You mean you guys came down here on that? And it didn't crash?" She shrugged. "Your technology must be getting better."

* * *

"How are we going to handle this, Max?" Jesse paced across the antechamber's floor. "The only experience in criminal law I've ever had was that time in Utah. And that was just a petty small town. This is big, Max."
"I know you won't let me down, Jesse," Max placed his hand on his brother-in-law's shoulder. "I mean, I know you and I... we have our... differences, but I know you're a good lawyer and I know you'll do the best you can, for Liz."
"But what if I need some help during the trial? I mean, as their King, won't they expect you to sit somewhere... neutral?"
"I can't be neutral, Jesse," Max shook his head. "This is my wife we're talking about. No, she's more than my wife. She's... she's a part of me, a very important part of me. How is she by the way? They won't let me anywhere near her."
"If it's any help, she's missing you as much as you're missing her," Jesse gave him a sympathetic smile.
Max nodded and released a heavy sigh of frustration.
"You told her I love her... that I won't give up on her, right?"
"She knows, Max."
"Jesse!" Max groaned.
"Of course I did," Jesse dropped his head. "She wishes they hadn't been able to block her ability to project herself to you."
"Me too," Max's eyes went distant.

"I'll tell you what our plan should be," Maria grunted. "We should grab that Michael Guerin by his ears and bang his head against the wall till he comes to his senses."
"It's not Michael," Max laughed at Maria's suggestion. "They have some kind of control over him. If he were Michael, he wouldn't be doing this. You know that, right? But hold that thought."
"It's just..." Maria shook her head and sat down. "I wish this was over."
"How come you two aren't reacting in the same way?" Jesse wondered out loud. "I mean, they have a machine that makes Michael do what they want, why not control either of you as well?"
"Because that would be construed as treason," Max shrugged. "You know, trying to control the king. I can't imagine they would do anything to give me grounds to do to them what they're doing to us. To... Liz. Besides. I'm willing to bet that the seal prevents something like that."
"They try using that thing on me," Isabel looked up at Jesse, "and I won't be as restrained as Max."

"So," Kyle looked up from his seat beside Connie. "How does the court system on Antar work? I mean, what can we expect?"
"Pretty much the same as on Earth, Kyle," Jesse looked at them all.
He and Max had been pouring through the ship's computers, dredging up information on the legal system of Max's home planet. Max had also been trying to piece together his past. He had not slept since he had first woken up in his room six days ago.
"Though it's less formal," Jesse continued. "You all have to stay out here, and wait to be called as witnesses. Liz will be brought up in a minute, and Max and I will take her in to the courtroom... after they say hello, of course." He paused while everyone cast sympathetic smiles at Max. "The prosecution opens with their statement, and we, ah follow with ours. Oh, Isabel can't be a witness, and Connie isn't really involved, so they can sit in the audience." He turned to the two girls. "Connie, you might feel more comfortable if you stayed in here with the others. There's a lot of hostility toward the humans right now."
"How are you going to cope?" Connie asked. "I mean, out there in the trenches."
"Let's just say that I'm glad that Max and his shield will be beside me." He tried to sound confident, but his nerves were shining through.

"There's something else you should know," Max look up, hesitancy in his voice. "This trial, it's big, okay. Think of the OJ Simpson case and the media attention it attracted around the world and you don't even come close to the importance of this case."
"And?" voices asked.
"Everyone will see it."
"So they won't be posting guards? Look outs? That sort of thing?"
"Yes," Max nodded. "They'll still go about their normal duties, but every single member of Antarian society will see this case. Those loyal to me, I mean. Inside their heads."
"Great," Kyle shook his head. "I hate reality TV."
"Yeah," Max nodded. "And one other thing. When you are called to the stand, don't even try to lie. You'll be sitting in what is effectively a lie detector. A lie would be more obvious than Pinocchio's nose."

There was the sound of a door sliding open at the back of the room. Max's head jerked around.
"Liz," he exploded, and rushed from his seat across to the door that just opened.
Flanked by two guards, Liz was brought into the room. She wore an ill-fitting green body suit, and both her hands and her feet were shackled together. She walked with a hobbled gait. Max stopped short of her, staring at her chains. Her face tried to show her pleasure at seeing Max again, but he could sense her hopelessness.
"Remove them," Max ordered, though his eyes never left Liz's.
Tears poured from her lids. She looked so defeated.
"Remove them!" Max spat when neither of the guards moved.
They were too slow. While one started to fumble with the catch, Max threw him out of the way and passed his hand over Liz's wrists. The chains fell free. He released her ankles, and pulled her to him.
"Max!" she sobbed, throwing herself into his arms.
"Oh, god, Liz!" Max murmured, raining kisses onto her face. "I am so sorry. I'm so sorry."
"No, no, no," she returned his kisses. "It's not your fault."
He captured her lips and they settled into a long, almost desperate yet sensual kiss. Max saw her ordeal as she was bombarded with questions, allowing her only a little sleep. Time and time again, Michael, or rather, Rath, had demanded that she sign a sheet of paper. Max knew that it was a confession, proclaiming that she didn't really care for him, that she sought to destroy him. She refused, again and again, clinging to her stated belief, 'I love him.'
When the kiss reluctantly ended, Max led her to greet her friends. Their reunion was emotional.
"Liz!" Maria bawled, pulling her into an embrace. "I'm so sorry."

* * *

Max was surprised by how many people there were on board the ship. The large courtroom was packed. Determined to show the court and all of Antar his belief in her, Max openly held Liz's hand on top of the table behind which they sat with Jesse. Max and Isabel had changed Liz's appearance. She no longer looked like the bedraggled prisoner. She now wore a smart suit, her hair was gleaming and tied into her normal ponytail, and touches of make-up hid her fatigue. When the formalities had been concluded, Rath stood up to make his opening statement. A sense of fear swept across Max. The trial had started.
"Your Majesty," he bowed to Max. "Your Highness," he bowed to Isabel. "Lords, Ladies and citizens of Antar." He paused and looked around the room. "You all know the lengths to which our people went to ensure our future. You are all aware of the secret plans to resurrect the beloved Royal Four amongst the inhabitants of the planet Earth, for them to grow strong for the day they may return. The day that King Zan would take up the struggle against the usurper Kivar and free Antar from his attempt to enslave us. What you are not aware of, what you are just finding out, is that right from the start, Kivar has had a spy, working to betray and ultimately, destroy your beloved king!" He waved his hand in Max's general direction.
There was an intake of breath.
"That spy was there to assassinate the Royal four that fateful night, decades ago, was there to inform Kivar of the plans for their resurrection, and was on hand to destroy Zan when he finally emerged from the location his protector thought was secret. The prosecution will prove that the spy in question was the one known as Elizabeth Parker."
There was uproar. Cries of 'Execute the witch' ran throughout the galleries. Rath played the crowd like an instrument, at last waving his hands to urge them to be quiet.
"Further," he continued. "The prosecution will show that the same Elizabeth Parker contrived to trick Queen Ava into undertaking a journey with her and that together, they drove to an unknown location in the desert, and there did the accused, Elizabeth Parker..." Rath paused for effect, pointing at Liz. "...murder our beloved... Zan's beloved... Queen Ava!"
"Order, order," the judge pounded on the table with a gavel, calling for calm after the tumultuous outburst. His efforts were half-hearted, however, and he allowed Rath to milk the moment for all its worth.
"Max," Jesse hissed. "You do realize that the jury won't even listen to me."
"They will," Max placed his hand on his arm. "Have faith in me and Liz," he looked to Liz and squeezed her hand. "Have faith in our love, okay?"
"Okay," Jesse shook his head.
Jesse wondered if he was speaking to him, or to Liz. He could see that Max saw he was not convinced.
"Just do it like we discussed. As far as you are concerned, you are their equal."
"I wish I felt their equal."
"Go get 'em."
Jesse did not feel as confident as Max's belief in him when he stood up to take his turn.
"Uhm..." he stammered. Staring back at him were more aliens than he could ever have imagined. It was like a nightmare. Memories of his nightmares from the early days of his discovery replayed in his mind. Only the fact that they all appeared human was preventing his total breakdown. "He... he's wrong. What he said. If you knew L... Liz at all, you would see that. She... she... loves Max. Thank you."
He sat down and buried his head in his arms.
"Sorry, Max," he groaned.
"Don't worry, Jesse," Max tried to cheer him up, but in his heart, he felt the first threads of defeat.

* * *

User avatar
WR
Addicted Roswellian
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Post by WR » Fri Apr 11, 2003 2:16 pm

Part 37

In the stillness of the courtroom, Rath waited for a few moments of total silence before he finally spoke. "The prosecution calls King Zan's chamberlain, Balusca."
From a strange machine hanging from the ceiling in the center of the chamber, a holographic image of a middle-aged man appeared.
"He's not really here," Max informed Liz. She gave him a mute nod. "He's talking to us from Antar." He looked at her with concern in his eyes.
"Like, live?" she asked. "There's no delay or anything?"
"That's right," he nodded.
"Balusca," Rath turned and faced the court. "How close would you say you were to King Zan?"
"Very close, Lord Rath," Balusca bowed. "I served him exclusively, as I served his father before him."
"So you are well aware of the history and the events surrounding the death of King Zan, Queen Ava, Vilondra and... Rath."
"I am," he nodded.
"Would you be so kind as to explain to all of us, in your own words, just what happened?"
"Of Course. Your honor," the image of the man nodded to the judge. "I will seek to explain the history of the death of the Royal Four, as I saw it, so that our... human guests, as well as the royal personages present can better understand where we are coming from. Although you all know the story, it is best that I explain it fully."

The old man's eyes scanned the room, resting for a moment on his King before he stopped at Liz. A look of contempt crossed his eyes. When he began, it was as if he were speaking to her, and not the court.

"As you are aware, our home planet, the planet Antar, is divided into ten ruling Houses. I belong to the House of Talluvia, and was Lord Zan's Chief Steward. For centuries, the House of Talluvia had been in conflict with the Houses of Kreskascent and Stellarine. Although there had been peace with the House of Stellarine for some time, the bigger, more powerful House of Kreskascent had slowly chipped away at the power of the House of Talluvia, until Lord Zan took his father's place as the Talluvian Ruler. Under his brilliant leadership, the fortunes of the House of Talluvia were overturned, and in one year, had reclaimed land that had taken the House of Kreskascent decades to capture. When the priesthood had discovered the plans of Epsilian, Antar's sister planet, to invade and enslave the planet Antar, the other eight houses demanded an end to the conflict, and stand together to defend our home. Unanimously, they elected Lord Zan to take the mantle of 'King', but the House of Kreskascent would only agree to a treaty if Lord Zan married Lady Ava, the young daughter of Kivar, the Kreskascent ruler, and accept his protege, Lord Rath as his second in command. Lord Zan did not even hesitate in the acceptance of the duty imposed upon him, and in a lavish ceremony, married Lady Ava.

"Many believed Zan to be a cold, calculating man. There are those who claimed he cared little for anything but power. Although many considered King Zan to be a selfish and heartless King, it must be remembered that this was a time of war. He had to make decisions in battle that sent many men to their deaths. This side of him was overlooked by many, though, thanks to his obvious love and devotion to Queen Ava. This made his acceptance by the people of Kreskascent all the easier.


Beside Max, Liz started to whimper. She was living her worst nightmare. Max tried his best to let her feel his love and affection for her, but she did not respond. He could sense his friend's behind him, enraptured by the story of his past. Balusca continued with his monologue.

"His battle plans were brilliant, and for a whole year, defeated the Epsilian advances time and time again. It would not be long before Epsilian could no longer afford the waste of manpower and equipment. An end to the conflict seemed around the corner, and with it, a golden age of peace and prosperity. Each victory was dedicated to "his one true love." Beside him, his young bride glowed with each compliment. But heavy is the head that wears the crown, and Zan had many unpleasant duties. Slowly, it seemed, his victories were not as easy as they once were, and the casualties rose. It was as though the enemy knew our plans. Although he would not speak to me about it, I was sure he was receiving some portend of great doom. However, with the Houses of Talluvia and Kreskascent now allied through a strong marriage and with Talluvia already on good terms with the other houses, everyone one was feeling optimistic. Surely, the defeat of Epsilian was just around the corner and the planet of Antar could look forward to a peaceful future. A golden age.

"In celebration of yet another victory, and the forthcoming betrothal of Lord Rath to her husband's twin sister - the Lady Vilondra - Queen Ava had arranged a small banquet for the four of them. No one fully discovered what had happened that night, but the guards were alerted by the noise of a fight, and after forcing the doors to the royal chambers, found their King, his wife, his sister and his second in command all slain. It was obvious that someone had used a secret way into the room and slew them. The secret doorway through which they had entered and left had not been properly closed. Caught by the bottom of the door was a shawl belonging to the Lady Millia from the house of Stellarine, who was an honor captive from a victory earlier in Lord Zan's military career. Suspicion had instantly fallen upon her, for she had broken her promise not to try to leave the palace. In the confusion of that night, she had escaped.

In the panic and chaos that had ensued, the High Priest summoned all the House Ruler's to him. Knowing it would take time for the Epsilian forces to find themselves in a position strong enough to break through the defenses already prepared by King Zan, he had decided on an audacious plan. He said that in fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, Lord Zan must be sent to the land of the Ancient ones. There, with his true love by his side, he would create a force, a power in him so strong, their enemies would quail before it. It was decided that our leaders would be reborn on the planet Earth, hidden among the caves of the Anasazi, where our race hid almost two millennia ago, during a cataclysmic event on Antar that would have wiped us out. There, on Earth, the four could mature quickly, strengthen the bonds of duty, devotion and love between them, and return to save our people."


* * *

"We're dead," Jesse shook his head as he looked at the crowd's reaction to a story it was obvious that they had all heard before.
Max wrapped an arm around Liz, trying to console her. He would have done anything to have spared Liz listening to someone who had been close to Zan talking of his devotion to Ava. She had not stopped crying since Balusca had said how Zan had dedicated his victories to what amounted to the love of his life. It had become clear that Tess had been telling the truth after all.
"No," Max murmured to Jesse. "There's still hope. There must be more to this story."
"I hope not," he shook his head. "Look, Max. Whoever this..." Jesse leafed through his notes, "Millia was, they all seem to believe that it's Liz. I have no idea why, or how, but as long as the jury believes it, we'll never win."
"Then we need to find out why they believe it, and prove they're wrong."
"Max," Liz sobbed to her husband. "Why do they hate me so much?"
"They don't know you, yet, Liz," Max tried to soothe her. "But they will. I promise. And when they do, they'll see you how I see you. How strong you are, how... true."
"They want to kill me, Max," she glared at him. "That's what Michael was trying to get me to sign. A confession so that they could execute me without the need for this trial."
"No," Max shook his head. "It's not going to happen. I'll fight them. If they want to kill you, they'll have to kill their king, first."
"No, Max," Liz sobbed. "You have to lead them. You have to defeat the skins on Earth. You have to save my family."
"I have to save my family, too, Liz," he held both of her arms. "And that includes you."
"Max," she sniffed. "Please, let me die before I hear anymore about you and Ava."
"Not me, Liz," he shook his head. "That was Zan. Remember? I love you."
"I just want to die," Liz sobbed, collapsing into Max's arms.
Jesse could not stand the sight of Liz, always so strong, giving up hope. Steeled by her tears, he rose.
"Objection, your honor!" he sounded almost defiant. "I'm hearing a lot of opinions here, and circumstantial evidence, but I fail to see anything that indicates my client's guilt. There is no evidence to support the claim that this... 'Millia' killed four people; two of them battle hardened warriors. Nor do I see how Liz figures into your tale of a possible traitor. She's a human woman, born on the planet Earth to human parents."
"Lord Rath?" the judge looked at him with questioning eyes. He was almost smirking.
"Please continue, Balusca," Rath nodded.
"Your honor?" Jesse interrupted again, looking down at the exhausted form of Liz, engulfed in Max's protective arms. "The defense moves for an adjournment. There are certain facts that have come to light that need further research if I am to obey your King's command and provide the best defense that I can for the accused."
Max threw a grateful smile at Jesse, aware of how clever he had just been, effectively cornering the judge into granting them a break.

"The court will adjourn until tomorrow," the judge agreed. "The guards will escort the prisoner to her cell."
"No!" Max stood in front of Liz when the guards approached, holding chains in their hands, to take her back to her confinement. "She stays with me."
"Your Majesty," the judge started, but Max glared at him.
"You would defy your King?" he cocked one eye. His voice sounded... dangerous. "As a legal representative, do you not think that is grounds for treason?"
"But, sire?" The judge looked for help. He saw Bektor and Rath pushing through the crowds.
"I'd think about that, carefully," Isabel smirked.
"Besides," Jesse added. "There are aspects of the case that I need to discuss with her. How can I do that if my client is denied access to my Antarian advisor?"
"I want to hug you!" Max whispered from the corner of his mouth.
"She's my family, too, Max," Jesse smirked.

* * *

"I'm so sorry, Max," Liz sobbed while he held her in the privacy of his bedroom.
"What have you got to be sorry for?" he asked her, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "You've done nothing wrong."
"I'm sorry for everything," she shrugged. "But most of all, I'm sorry that I won't ever get to see that big ceremony you promised me."
"Yes you will, Liz," he hugged her once more. "We'll hold it in Roswell," he smiled, easing her back onto his bed. He started to stroke his hands through her hair. She looked so tired. "In a huge marquee that we'll set up in the park. We'll repeat our vows in front of that fountain. Everyone will be there. The school, our friends, our families, everyone we've ever helped..."
"Granny?"
"Everyone," he smiled.
"And you know what? There will be television cameras there, because the whole world will want to see the famous Liz Evans, the woman who believed enough in her husband that she stood by his side against the hordes of the FBI, and then the alien invaders."
"Do you really think so?" her voice sounded distant.
"I know so," Max kissed her forehead. "And the world will fall in love with you, because that's what you do. You make people fall in love with you."
"Mmmm," she started to snuggle against him. "Not your people, though."
"People like me, Liz. And that's all that's important. I have been in love with you since the very first day I saw you. I know Maria, Isabel and the others would like to know the reason why I've always felt this way about you, but guess what? I don't. I don't need a reason to be in love with you Liz. It's enough that I am. And to know that you are in love with me, that's just... wow. You take my breath away."
"I love you," Liz whispered.
Max kissed the tip of her nose, and then her knuckles still entwined in his hands. He rocked her in his arms until she fell asleep. He laid her hands across her chest, kissed her lips and crept from the room.
"How is she?" Maria asked as Max rejoined them in the room next door.
"She's asleep," Max nodded with a frown. "But she's not herself. She's given up."
"Don't worry," Maria shook her head, resting her arm on Max's shoulder. "Wait until she wakes up. Then she'll be good as new." She gave him a friendly hug.
"They've been treating her pretty badly, Max," Jesse confirmed.
"I know," Max nodded. "She's suffering from sleep deprivation. They've been trying to get her to sign a confession."
"They?" Kyle asked. "Or Guerin?"
"I am going to kick him so many ways he'll think he's a pinball," Maria growled.
"Guys," Max interrupted the free-for-all that exploded as they vied with one another with what they would do to their erstwhile friend. "It's not Michael, remember."
"You know, Max," Isabel frowned. "What we heard in there explains a lot."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I always wondered, if you were the king, and I was your sister... when you... died... that time. Why didn't the seal come to me? But it makes sense now. Being the King on Antar doesn't seem to be a hereditary thing. It's like, you were... elected."
"And Tess was this Kivar's daughter," Jesse added. "That's why she was so willing to fall in with Nacedo's plan to sell Max out to him, I guess. I mean, if the two of you were in love as much as that Balusca was claiming, then why did she so easily betray you? I could never see Liz doing something like that to you, no matter what."
"Because I wasn't in love with Ava," Max shook his head. "Don't ask me how I know, but I think I was in love with someone else."
"Do you think that maybe you were in love with this Millia?" Isabel asked. "I mean, if Liz is her, like they seem to be suggesting in there; that would also answer a few questions about your connection. We need to find out more about her."
"Why do they think that this traitor, the one who murdered you, is Liz?" Kyle wondered out loud. "What proof have they got?"
"I guess Rath will let us know that, tomorrow," Max sighed.

* * *

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WR
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Post by WR » Fri Apr 18, 2003 3:01 pm

Part 38

The Greyhound bus pulled to a stop in the hot and dry bus depot of Roswell, New Mexico, in front of the sign that proclaimed the town to be the 'Alien Capital of the World.' Only one passenger climbed out of the bus, a tall hippie with lank, dirty blond hair. He dropped his duffel bag to the floor and as the bus pulled out, leaving behind a cloud of dust and exhaust fumes, he surveyed his surroundings. The man looked around him as though someone might be watching him. It was as if he would rather remain unnoticed. He took out a damp pad of cloth and used it to wipe the spittle that constantly leaked from the corner of his misshapen mouth that made his face appear crooked. He tucked the cloth away, lifted up the bag, and turned out of the depot and headed for the end of town where he knew he could find a cheap motel where the owner wouldn't ask many questions.
"Yeah?" the proprietor grunted at the man when he entered the lobby. Behind his protective window of grimy plastic, his eyes never left the television set.
"I need a room," the hippie slurred his words, unable to form them correctly because of his mouth. He abbreviated his sentence with the sucking in of excess saliva.
"How long for?"
"A week. Maybe more, but a week for now."
"Twenty eight bucks a night." The man still had not looked up. "In advance."
"The sign says twenty two."
"That room's taken. You want a room or not?"
The hippie counted out two hundred dollars and slid it under the special grill of the plastic partition. The man grunted, reached across and took the money. He leafed through the ten twenty-dollar bills, and reached to the other side of him to a rack full of keys.
"Room thirty-six," he returned to the television set after sliding the key back through the slot. "Down the end. Can't miss it."
The hippie waited a few moments for his change before he realized that the man, who had shoved the cash into the register without ringing it up wasn't going to bother. He picked up the key, lifted his bag and left the room shaking his head, muttering under his breath about little people and their little lives.

* * *

"Senator McCarthy," someone called from down the corridor. "Senator McCarthy!"
"John," Glenn McCarthy saw his friend, and aide, hurrying through the crowded hallway. His face was red, and he was breathing hard. "What's the rush?"
John looked up and down the corridor, and pushed Glenn into an empty office.
"You know you asked me to keep an ear open for any strange, unexplainable reports? You know, ones that might be related to your mother's... friends?"
"Yeah," Glenn nodded.
"Well, get this. You know that newspaper report about witnesses saying that aliens have invaded?"
"Yeah," he chuckled, making a face at the concept.
"I don't know if they're aliens or not, but there was definitely a disturbance around Area 51. There are four zones that the military have sealed off, and they have investigators swarming all over a fifth. Apparently, some Rangers encountered some... resistance when they went to investigate the meteorites that fell there the other night. I've been told that some kind of firefight with person or persons unknown had taken place, and that we took a number of casualties. There's a rumor that whoever it was, was bulletproof."
"My god," Glenn frowned. "Haven't the military tried to just overrun them? Why haven't they used the heavy stuff?"
"Because, apparently there's no sign of them. No radar returns, no infra red, nothing. But the army's there all the same."
"Maybe they're hiding in whatever they came down in?"
"Maybe," the aide agreed. "Except there's no sign of what ever it was they did come down in. Just desert, shrubs and rocks as far as the eye can see. No trace of any meteorite debris either. And the Air Force is enforcing a no fly zone in a one hundred mile diameter around Area-51 air space."
"So the army has basically sealed off empty space?"
"I guess so. Glenn? What if these... people decide to make a move of their own? And what if there are more of them coming?"
"Why Area 51?" Glenn queried.
"Do you want to hear a wild supposition?"
"Shoot."
"Suppose the conspiracy theories are true? Suppose that the US Government has been hoarding crashed ships and dead aliens there for decades? Why, there could be a whole army of aliens in those underground vaults."
"Yeah, but like you said. Those aliens are dead."
"Remember that guy, Max? Weren't there rumors that he could heal?"
"My god!" Glenn's eyes widened. "Are you suggesting that Max is involved? That he's going to heal those dead aliens, and then... take over the U.S.A.? The world?"
"If he was involved," John frowned, "I suspect he was there to prevent just such a thing happening. My sources tell me that some... 'talented' civilians helped one squad of Rangers escape, while eliminating an entire base of these... others. There used to be five of these bases. Now there are only four. That fifth area is where the army is checking for forensics and that was where the... strangers turned up."
"Keep me posted, John," Glenn turned and started to run for the door.
"Where are you going, sir?"
"If anyone needs me," Glenn stopped and turned to his aide with a smile, "I'll be in Roswell."

* * *

"Have you been there all night?" a gentle voice asked Max from behind him. He was again sitting in his room, reading a screen full of data on what could only be described as a computer.
"Good morning, Liz," he turned from his task, and hurried to her side. He broke into a huge smile. "How did you sleep?" Max tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and cupped her cheek.
"Better," she nodded, nuzzling her cheek into his touch. "I..." She closed her eyes and squeezed out a tear. "Max, I'm so sorry."
"Hey, I told you," he soothed. "It's not your fault."
"But some of the things I said," she frowned. "They were..."
"Completely understandable," Max placed his finger over her lips. She kissed it. "What they were doing to you is an old trick, even on Earth. Pierce did it to me, so I know what you went through. Anyway, I've forbidden them to treat you that way anymore."
"I've missed you," her eyes grew dark.
"I've missed you too. And I'm going to make everything right, just as soon as I can."
"Do I have to go to that court room again?" her face dropped.
"I'm afraid so," Max sighed. "I've made arrangements for you to stay with me from now on, so you won't be alone again, but there are some things even I can't prevent. This trial is one of them."
"You look tired, Max," Liz traced Max's jaw line with her opened hand. "Have you been sleeping?"
"I'm not going to sleep until they accept the fact that I'm with you and not Ava," Max leaned into his wife's touch. "I don't care who they say you are. To me, you are my Queen."

* * *

"You were telling us about the murder of the Royal four, Balusca," Rath started the day's proceedings by recalling the holographic image of the old man. "And how the captive, Millia was..." Rath paused, and glared at Jesse, "...might have been involved. Why don't you start with what happened after the deaths of the Royal Four?"

"Of course," he bowed to Rath. "After their deaths, it had been decided to have the essences of the four heroes mixed with genetically modified human DNA, having already decided to send the group to the planet, Earth. There were many reasons for this. Firstly, the human race matures more quickly than ours. This meant that we would be able to return the four back to our planet much sooner. Secondly, although not yet as advanced, their brain has far more potential than ours. We had designed their brains to be advanced by hundreds of years. They would be capable of far more than anyone on their planet, and more than anyone on ours, developing both human and Antarian abilities. Thirdly, although they are a war faring race, they have a huge propensity for love in their hearts. The priests had divined that it would be this love that would save our planet. The advantages of the two houses of Talluvia and Kreskascent combined through an unbreakable bond of love, as well as duty, were obvious to everyone.

"Dozens of fast scout ships were sent to Earth. Because they were small, and the Epsilians had suffered such devastating losses, they easily slipped through their lines unobserved. Their task was to head for Earth and to locate and extract suitable DNA for the cloning of host bodies. The DNA had to come from the fetus of an unborn child, because it was still at a stage that would accept the modifications required for the purpose of accepting the Antarian essences. Meanwhile, the essences of our four fallen heroes were stored in the Mother ship, along with the equipment needed to help and sustain them. At the same time, the priests selected four people that would be sent with the young heroes. To prevent the chance of betrayal, these four were selected from the other houses, and were taken from collectives far remote, and knew nothing of the current palace intrigues. These four so chosen would double as guardians and teachers and help to protect, nurture and train them on their pre-destined path. Each guardian had their own DNA altered by the priests, which would prevent them from taking the life of any of our four leaders. They were also programmed to obey direct orders from King Zan, without question. This, they knew, would prevent any acts of treachery, keeping all the interested parties happy and less suspicious of one another.

"The Mother Ship was soon loaded, and ready for its departure to Earth. Under the cover of a diversionary attack on the Epsilian fleet, it escaped undetected into the vastness of space. Little did we know then the depths of treachery perpetrated against the Royal four... against us. In the absence of a King, Lord Kivar, leader of the House of Kreskascent, and father to Queen Ava, had taken the mantle of Overlord. His first action was to launch an investigation into the murder of his family. There was a trail of blood leading through the hidden passages back to the apartment of the Lady Millia, the honor captive from the House of Stellarine. Her room was a scene of a hasty departure, and an Epsilian blade, stained with King Zan's blood had been found by her wardrobe. With her shawl being found in the doorway, and the knife in her room, it was obvious to all that Lady Millia had been working with our enemy, that she had betrayed the trust she had been shown, that she had betrayed King Zan. The hunt was on to find her and return her to the palace where Lady Millia would stand trial.


"Balusca," Rath interrupted, lifting a shawl. "Do you recognize this garment?
"I do, my lord."
"Would you please tell the court what it is?"
"It is the shawl belonging to the Lady Millia. She once told me that it had been given to her by someone she cared about."
"What's so special about this shawl, Balusca?"
"It's a shawl that is produced only on Epsilia, my Lord." Balusca informed the stunned crowd. "It's not one that would be bought from an Epsilian market. Shawls such as these are made only to order, and only for the greatest of Lords."
"Someone like King Larek?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"So do you think that the shawl was a gift from someone like King Larek?"
"Objection!" Jesse rose. "The counsel is asking for an opinion, not a fact."
"I'm afraid that I must agree," the judge gave an apologetic shrug to Rath.
"Very well," Rath shrugged. "Let me put it another way. Balusca, in all the time that Millia dwelt in the palace, how many members of Epsilian society did she have the opportunity to meet?"
"Just one, Lord Rath."
"And who would that have been?"
"Lord Larek, when he would visit with Zan under his mask of friendship."
"The prosecution would like to offer this shawl as exhibit A."
"Does the counsel for the defense wish to examine the shawl?"
Jesse looked at Max. Max looked at Liz's numb face and turned back to Jesse with a slight shake of his head.
"Not at this time, your honor," Jesse replied.
"Very well," the judge nodded. "Prosecution may proceed."

"As the days passed, and no sign of the traitor was found, Lord Kivar accused the House of Stellarine of hiding her. He held this as an indication that the House of Stellarine had betrayed them all to the Epsilian forces. He proposed that the combined houses attack the House of Stellarine, and destroy them for their act of treachery. Some of the other houses objected, and broke from the alliance to side with Stellarine. Others were unsure, and it was then, when total chaos reigned, that the Epsilian fleet struck. Facing his own annihilation, Kivar had struck a deal with the Epsilians. Seeing that the only way to save Antar was to accept Epsilian dominion, he joined with them. Our enemy now held half of Antar, although there were still pockets of resistance, mainly in the mountains. Some families among the Kreskascents remained loyal to Antar waiting for the day that Queen Ava would return. Personal messages were recorded for the heroes, warning them of their tasks ahead, and sent to those on board the mother ship as they made ready to land, our hearts heavy for our losses. Kivar maintained his role as Overlord, and because the other houses remained in open defiance, civil war has raged ever since."

"Just one more thing," Rath looked up. "What was this Millia doing at the palace, and why would she seek to betray everyone, and Zan in particular?"

"Because during his early years, while the houses of Stellarine and Talluvia were enemies, Zan defeated the house of Stellarine and claimed the daughter of their Lord as a hostage against further fighting. She would have had a hatred of the man who humiliated her father. Although she would have given her word not to try to escape, she would have hated being effectively a slave."

"Thank you, Balusca," Rath nodded at the man. "No further questions."
"Does the defense wish to cross examine the witness?" The judge asked Jesse.
"What exactly is this proving, Max?" Jesse leaned across Liz to speak to his 'advisor.' "What do the deaths of this Royal Four have to do with Liz?"
"I think Rath is trying to show that this Millia was a traitor who assisted in our murders. He must have other evidence to link Liz with Millia."
"You have to admit, Max. The possibility that Liz was one in the same as this Millia... I mean... it's so bizarre. But somehow, it all fits. The thing is, what questions should I ask to try and prove that Millia didn't commit this treason?"
"Not yet," Max shook his head.
"At this time, we have no questions, your Honor," Jesse rose to address the bench.
The judge raised his eyebrows and looked at Max. Rath openly smirked.
"Why not, Max?" Jesse asked, when he had seated himself again. "Why don't we at least ask some questions?"
"Because we don't know what questions to ask yet," Max shook his head. "Let's not show our ignorance."

Rath rose from his seat and still smirking turned to face the audience.
"We will now listen to the testimony of one of the protectors, sent with the Royal Four. The prosecution calls Gleed."
It was not a holographic projection from Antar that spoke. Instead, from the doors to the side of the room, a middle-aged man appeared and crossed to the chair in front of the judge's bench.
"Your name is Gleed?" Rath took to pacing in front of the jurors with his hands clasped behind his back.
"Yes, Lord Rath," the man nodded.
"And you were one of the protectors assigned to the Royal Four?"
"I was," the man nodded.
Max, Isabel and Liz all stared at the man, trying to see if they might somehow recognize him. Not one of them had ever seen him before.
"We've seen how Lady Millia betrayed us all on Antar, but as yet, we do not know how deep her treachery ran. Perhaps you could tell us?"
"It's a long and complex tale, Lord Rath."
"We have time," Rath smirked. "Tells us, in your own words, what happened."
"It's... it's not pretty."
"Nothing in this whole sordid tale is, Gleed," Rath waved his hand in the air. "But I'm sure we can take it."
"Did Michael used to watch Perry Mason?" Jesse whispered behind his hand to Max.

"In mid June of the Earth year 1947, the scout ships rendezvoused with the mother ship, using the dark side of the Earth's moon for cover. We had been hoping for a wide selection of material to choose our donors from, so as to select perfect specimens. However, of the two dozen scout ships dispatched from Antar, only five met up with us. We wondered about this, but with other duties to attend to, we left it for later. The essences of the Royal four were transferred into the two sets of incubator pods holding the small cell sacks that would develop into human children. It had been decided to have them born as six-year-old infants, knowing that they would have a better chance of survival if anything should go wrong. After all, the guardians would have to live among; what to us was a race of hostile aliens with a rapidly advancing technology. We created the duplicate set as a backup plan, in case anything happened to the originals. History has shown that sometimes, even the best laid plans can go wrong.

"We knew that the ship had not been followed, so when we encountered a squadron of Epsilian fighters just as preparations were made for our landing on the planet, we discovered the depths of Millia's treachery. She had told Larek everything, though how she knew of the mission to give birth to Zan and the others on Earth, we didn't know. We still don't. Although we fought the fighters off, we sustained a lot of damage to our ship. Our Navigation controls were damaged more than we realized, and the ship crashed through the Earth's atmosphere and into the desert below, some distance away from the caves we sought. Of the four guardians, one had died in the crash, his body too damaged to be healed. The three of us that remained started to move the heavy equipment first, so that we could set up the chamber, making sure that it was ready to receive the pods. We found a cave nearby, suitable for our needs. The cave was far enough from the crash sight to escape detection by any searching forces attracted by the impact, but close enough for us to move the important items needed for their survival. We set up the Granolith, first. We figured that this important device should not be placed far from Zan. Unfortunately the devices we were to use to install all of their memories and knowledge had sustained some damage, but we set them up anyway, hoping at least something would be loaded into our charges. When we returned to the crash site to retrieve the pods, the Earth's military had arrived before we could get them to safety. We were surprised by the troops from the nearby airfield, and believing us to be either looters, or the press, we were detained and handed over to what we later discovered were called the FBI. We managed to escape when we took the form of three of their agents, but one of our numbers was quickly recaptured. Now they knew what we were. The one you know as Nacedo and I set about trying to rescue the pods. We might not have succeeded but one of their own kind, a warrior, gave us some assistance, and created a diversion so we might escape. Once clear of their base, Nacedo installed the main pods in the chamber, while I took the duplicates to the east coast of the continent we were on, as far from the real Royals as I could get. In spite of the treachery, we had been fortunate.

"Once I had placed the duplicate pods in a safe location within the metropolis called New York, I spent my time hiding from the FBI, and keeping the main pod chamber under surveillance. After all, this place was closest to the alien search operations, yet were of the utmost importance to us. When I saw Nacedo lead the agents assigned to watch the area away, I realized that my presence might be causing problems, so I left as well. Taking the form of what they call a Native American, I journeyed to the lands of the Anasazi. I spent many years searching among the ruins and caves, looking for guidance amongst the messages we left behind, almost two millennia ago when our ancestors sheltered there during the death of our original sun. By the edge of a deep lake, I found some debris from one of our crashed scout ships. When I picked up a piece, I received the memory vision of a scout ship being shot by an Epsilian fighter, crashing into these rocks, and sinking into the depths of the water at my side. It seemed to me from that memory that the enemy knew of our mission, and were already here, waiting for us. This was why so few scouts returned to the mother ship. The Lady Millia had warned the Epsilians of every aspect of our plan and they had set up an ambush.

"As I turned to leave the scene, I noticed a small cavern entrance behind me. There was a handprint above the entrance, similar to the many handprints painted elsewhere throughout the caves and canyons of this region. But this one was more recent. I crawled into the cavern, and created some light. At the back of the cave was a survival cocoon, the ones we create as our bodies near death. Thinking it was the pilot from the Scout ship, I went to see what assistance I could provide, for I had access to the healing stones. I carefully peeled the layers away from the face to reveal the occupant, and was startled to discover that it was the Lady Millia. After fleeing the palace the night she had betrayed King Zan, she had obviously stowed away on a scout ship, perhaps hoping she could hijack it, and return home, or perhaps flee to her lover on Epsilia. Instead she ended up here, a victim of her own treachery.

"However, I was keen to make a name for myself back then. I wanted answers to the many questions I, and others had, because the future of our world was at stake. Perhaps there were others involved? Perhaps she knew some way to defeat the Epsilians. After retrieving the healing stones from their hiding place in another cave close to the chamber, I tried to revive the Lady Millia. However, her body had sustained too much damage to be healed. I wanted answers, so I began to think how I might find them. After carefully sealing the cave, and returning the stones to their correct location, I went back among the Natives, hoping that their Elder's wisdom, and the old stories passed down from the bygone days of our 'Ancient Ones' might give me inspiration. None was forthcoming.

"At about this time, an archaeological survey team came from a nearby educational establishment, like me, hoping to uncover more secrets of the paintings and messages from the past. They employed many of the local natives, and so I joined them. Maybe I might learn something I did not already know. I was allocated as a guide to a young female student. She was extremely lively, had a keen analytical mind, and with no preconceptions, was open to any and all interpretations of what she saw. I grew to not only like her, but to trust her. Perhaps it was the way she talked so openly of her love for her fiancé. I grew careless in her company, and when we were completely alone, late one afternoon, she saw me doing something that she knew should have been impossible.

"I told the woman who I was, and where I had come from. She thought I was joking, so I shape shifted in front of her. She took this news better than I had hoped, but it was still a week before she approached me again. She followed me one afternoon, to the cave. Having again received her trust, I told her just what I am telling you now. She was fascinated by the whole history, and could talk about nothing else but the cloning process, and the transfer of the essence. When I told her the story of Lady Millia, she grew very sad. She became eager to know everything about her, and I was quite startled at her reaction. The woman suggested I create a clone for Lady Millia, but I lacked the tools to take a sample without the donor's knowledge. She then offered to allow me to extract some DNA from her unborn fetus, when she eventually conceived, to allow me to create the clone. I was not surprised by her unselfish offer for I perceived that this was the way she was. We talked all evening about the process, and when we returned to camp, it was to find her friends organizing a search party.

"She married her fiancé soon after this, and was soon overjoyed to find herself pregnant. Perhaps I should have stayed close by to ensure things happened correctly, but when I arrived to collect the DNA sample, I was dismayed to discover that she was carrying the fetus of a male child. The female essence of Lady Millia would never integrate with the DNA of a male fetus. The woman said there would be more, that we could try again, but I had seen that she would not give birth again. I returned to the cave to check on Lady Millia, and discovered to my horror that her body had decomposed into a pile of dust. She had finally died."

* * *

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Post by WR » Fri Apr 25, 2003 3:15 pm

Part 39

Code: Select all

DATELINE:  December 9th, 2002 . . . . . . Houston, Texas. . . . . . . NASA Scientists have today announced that they have been monitoring yet another meteorite heading for Earth.  There is no need to be concerned.  This one is just a fraction of the original size of recent meteor WR2002.  Scientists estimate that the meteor, so far unnamed, will burn up in the atmosphere in two weeks time.
Military experts deny that there is any link with the recent landings reported in the wake of the WR2002 meteor.  The area around Groom Lake is still sealed off, however, and large numbers of troops are reportedly conducting maneuvers in the desert area.  Skeptics claim that there has recently been an invasion by alien forces, something denied by the Pentagon.  A spokesman is quoted as saying "If they were re-supplying and reinforcing advanced forces, don't you think they'd send something a bit bigger?"
Alien Watcher groups claim that everything that has been happening recently points to the fact that we can no longer sit back and ignore the vastness of outer space.  There are some that claim that the new moon behind Pluto is, in reality, a space ship and that recent traffic detected by SETI are Alien military communiqués.  They back this up with the recent withdrawal of the hugely popular, SETI @ Home internet service after one subscriber claims that he had found a second genuine message.  SETI claims that the withdrawal of the service was due to simple administration problems. . . . . . . . Reuters.
* * *

Hiding behind the planet Pluto, the audience listened to the revelations of Gleed. There was little sympathy over the news of Lady Millia's death. There were even some murmurings of satisfaction over the loneliness of her death. Gleed ignored this, and with a glint of sadness in his countenance, he continued with his tale.
"As I was leaving, some natives told me of a group of tourists that were here a few weeks ago, and how one woman in particular suddenly felt dizzy, quite near to the cave. The local medicine man checked her out, but would not give her any medication for she was two months pregnant. My mind reeled. Had Lady Millia's essence somehow transferred itself into the unborn fetus of this tourist? She had certainly proved herself resourceful in the past, and she had been a renowned scientist with the House of Stellarine. She might have had both the knowledge, and the capability to do this, even if she were already at the door to death. There would have been a danger to this, for the essence of Lady Millia would have been diluted with that of the original host, as the fetus would have formed with its own personality already. She would only be half Lady Millia. I decided to conduct a search for this woman who might be carrying the traitor to our planet.

"It was then that I found a man, James Atherton, who knew all about us, for he had already met and befriended Nacedo. He seemed fascinated by the fact that there were aliens here on Earth, and started to put forth all sorts of theories. He obviously did not know everything about us, and so I did not offer him any more information than he already had learned from my colleague. Despite his involvement with the governmental searches for us, he never betrayed us. It seemed to me that he often led the searches away from us. Without going into too much detail, I told him how I had to trace the pregnant woman from the tourist party. I guess he read too much into the tale, for in helping me search for the woman, he also set up a secret laboratory beneath his house, where we could deliver the alien baby he was sure existed.

"During my search, I discovered that my old friend had given birth to her son. I took my normal form so that I could visit her. She was most saddened when I informed her that Lady Millia had died, but like me, seemed convinced that we would find her again. She seemed so positive, I wondered if somehow Lady Millia's essence had taken residence in her after all. With her permission, I formed a connection, but found no trace of Lady Millia. This was a relief, for this kind of transfer would have been worse than that of a transfer to an unborn fetus. Unless the host conceived a child in which the essence could live, it would remain trapped within the host, inaccessible. There would have been no way that the essence could cohabitate with the fully formed personality of an adult human. I started to fear that in my selfish attempt at glory, I had lost the chance to find the truth.

"For the next twenty years, I wandered around the desert, returning to the chamber whenever I felt safe enough to do so. I never traced the young woman, or her child, but I never gave up. By now, the pods had reached the life stage of the six-year-olds they had been designed to emerge as, but showed no signs of consciousness. The process was a long one, but one we knew to be worth the wait. It was during this time that I became aware of the fact that I was being hunted. The growing number of people dying with the tell tale silver handprints led me to believe that Nacedo was my hunter. At first, I thought he was simply searching for me, and killing those he perceived knew too much, so I too started to try and find him. It was only after I had discovered that Nacedo had killed our friend, James Atherton that I realized that perhaps Nacedo was planning to kill me, also.

"I had a strange feeling of dread hanging over me after that. I grew afraid for the four youngsters in the Pod Chamber. I started to piece together the facts, as I knew them. King Zan and the others had been slain, through treachery. The Lady Millia had apparently been in league with the Epsilians, and had fled the Palace after their death. Perhaps she had planned to return to her home, or maybe she sought to join the Epsilians. Whichever, she ended up on Earth. Nacedo, one of the guardians, seemed hell bent on destroying me, another guardian. Why? Had Atherton told Nacedo of my search for Lady Millia? Had Nacedo therefore assumed that I had some hand in this treachery? Or was he, perhaps, seeking to assist her and prevent me from capturing her? Who had informed the Epsilians of the plan to come to Earth? I had so many questions, so few answers, and too little time.

"One afternoon, I was unfortunate, or perhaps I was fortunate, to witness an assault on a deputy sheriff who had pulled a car over out in the desert. The occupants of the vehicle had shot him dead, and made their escape. I took the young man's form, and carefully hid the body. With the access I now had to police records, I was soon able to trace that woman who fell ill by the caves of the Ansazi. It was a complex task, for they had not yet started to use computers. By checking her medical records, I found out about her daughter. At last I had a lead, which I pursued vigorously, but to a dead end. Under the pretext of a medical examination, I concluded that the woman was not the Lady Millia.

"I returned to the cave, and was staring at the dust left by the body of Lady Millia when my error had hit me. I had always assumed that Lady Millia ending up on Earth was a mistake, that she intended to hi-jack the scout ship and go either home, or to Epsilian. But what if this was where she needed to be? What if the Epsilian technicians had arranged to do to Lady Millia what our technicians were doing to King Zan and the others? After all, I had considered that very idea myself, so I'm sure another would have thought of it. There could be a pod somewhere, where the essence of Lady Millia had been removed from her body, in my absence, by an Epsilian agent and mixed with human DNA, waiting to emerge, and hunt down Lord Zan. Perhaps Nacedo had done this. The idea terrified me. But then the answer struck me like a thunderbolt. It was obvious. There would be no way for the Epsilians to know where we had taken the pods. Our original plan had been changed, thanks to the failed attempt to destroy us. Therefore, how would they know where to place the pod of Millia, and at what time should they have her emerge? These facts had been changed. Unless Nacedo was a traitor himself, a fact I could not believe, they would not know. The dust at which I had looked was not Millia. The Lady Millia had somehow been revived, and the dust left there, perhaps to fool me. She needed no new body for a vessel, for she still had her own, and what was worse, she was a shape shifter. I returned to the Pod Chamber, and was dismayed to find all four pods empty, and the youngsters gone. I could only hope that Nacedo hadn't betrayed them.

"Over the intervening years, I spent my time in two places. Some of the time, I spent in New York, to where I had returned in time for those Pod's opening. Sadly, the fact that I had neglected them in the coming years did little in helping with their upbringing. The rest of the time, I spent in New Mexico. I took the form of a Native American again, and joined the local law enforcement as a deputy. As I had found out before, what better disguise to check into any abnormal activity that might lead me to King Zan? The native element gave me access to information that the Native Americans may find, if the others were hiding in the desert, or the Anasazi lands. As the years went by, I began to fear that Nacedo had taken them completely out of the area, or worse, had already slain them, and I was about to leave when I felt King Zan's presence. I knew I was in the right place, but who was he? Then finally, I had my best ever piece of luck. I had been summoned in my official capacity to an incident that had forced Zan to reveal himself. The way in which he did so shook me to the core, for he had been programmed to never take such a risk. And the fact that he had taken that risk to save the life of his assassin made it all the more... strange.

"As soon as I knew who King Zan was, I quickly found Lady Vilondra and Lord Rath. There was, however, no sign of Lady Ava or of Nacedo. I knew that I only had to wait, that she would turn up, one day. She would be drawn to him. I watched the three of them, carefully, amazed as they let humans into their lives. I feared for the new Zan, with his closeness and obvious attraction to the Lady Millia, but something told me to keep an eye on them, that I might learn of her plans this way. Against my natural inclination, I did nothing to separate them. I could never understand his infatuation with her, even though he didn't know of her Anatarian heritage. I assumed at the time that King Zan simply saw her as an amusing distraction while he waited for the arrival of Queen Ava, but still, I could not reconcile his actions. Also, the interactions between Lord Rath and Lady Vilondra worried me. They should have been drawn together, not to those earthlings. I visited the old Anasazi caves frequently, looking for clues as to their behavior, and was often absent during moments of crises when my help could have been useful, such as Zan's motor accident, which occurred with the Lady Millia, incidentally. Perhaps she engineered it. These events certainly did little to separate them.

"When Nacedo finally arrived with Queen Ava, and the quartet was complete, once again, I was quick to see that my suspicion of Nacedo was false. He did all he could to push Ava and Zan together. Perhaps he had suspected me of treason? I was dismayed by the reaction of King Zan and the others. It was as if it was Ava who was the intruder. I firmly believed that the priesthood back on Antar had been mistaken to send them to this planet, that they somehow seemed able to ignore the biological programming they had been given. I believed that it was something genetic within the human DNA, for their people constantly rose up against authority. The only one, who seemed to be doing what was expected, was Queen Ava. I really feared for our planet. Things were going awry and there was still the question of treachery. Lady Millia was getting closer to Zan with each passing day but now that Queen Ava was in close proximity, I believed she would give him the strength he needed to see the truth. It would only be a matter of time before he realized who she was, and take appropriate action. I feared that if I were to take a hand in matters, I might seriously damage whatever chance Ava had of making Zan see Lady Millia for who she was. Why hadn't Nacedo taken action against Lady Millia? Perhaps he had never seen her, and so would not know her.

"I again visited the Anasazi lands, hoping that I might find a hidden cave or grotto with more information, after all, there were so many of them. I knew things were going well at last when I returned that summer to find that King Zan and the others had removed themselves from their human distractions, and were at last moving toward their destiny. I was relieved, especially since there was no sign of Lady Millia. I had assumed that someone, Zan, or perhaps Rath, had summarily executed her, and so I returned to New York in an effort to fix things with the duplicates. There, I walked into a veritable hornet's nest. Epsilian agents had contacted them, and turned them. I barely escaped with my life.

"Gleed," Rath looked puzzled, as though something had escaped him. "I don't understand. Tell me. Why is it that you believe that the defendant, Elizabeth Parker, is the Lady Millia?"
"Well, everyone knows that as shapeshifters, we must periodically return to our base form. We cannot hold new shapes for long."
"I fail to see the relevance."
"You see, my Lord," Gleed turned to face Liz. "She and Lady Millia share the same looks. They are identical. Elizabeth Parker does not contain the essence of Lady Millia. She IS Lady Millia."

* * *

Kalyn sat cross-legged in the cool interior of the pod chamber, as the trial played out in her mind. Forgotten for now, the journal of the murderer, Liz Parker, sat on the floor beside her. She had given up its translation a long time ago and had started to hang out by the girl's parents in a hope to overhear some clue as to her origins and plans. It had seemed, however, that in her desire to find out this information, her colleagues, Chyn and Bektor had finally located Zan, Rath and Vilondra. She had been as angered as everyone else when she had discovered that Ava had been killed, murdered in cold blood by that witch. She could hardly wait for the sentence to be carried out. She only hoped that someone would return for her before then. She so badly wanted to attend the execution. Then, as soon as the duplicate Ava was located, they could return to Antar and finally defeat the forces of Epsilian. Kivar would surely change his allegiance and fight to free Antar, once his daughter had returned safely.
Click, click, clack.
Kalyn looked up at the sudden noise of a stone falling and became aware that she was no longer alone. She rose to her feet in a slow and steady motion, her eyes straining to detect any other movement in the pale blue glow still emanating from the disused pods.
"Come out," she spoke to the dark shadow, her hand aimed toward it.
A small shape stood up and stepped into the light.
"Yo, Kalyn," the shape held one hand up with her thumb and little finger extended. "Word."

* * *
Last edited by WR on Sun Nov 16, 2003 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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